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Posted at 22/11/2012 | By : | Categories : Latest News,Press Releases | 0 Comment


Conservative Friends of Russia (CFoR) has criticised Labour MP Chris Bryant as it uncovered that the All Party Parliamentary Group for Russia, which he chairs, was on the verge of being disbanded because it had failed to hold an Annual General Meeting within the correct timeframe.

Chris Bryant using his time constructively

The last time an AGM was held for the group was 12th October 2011, meaning it is already six weeks overdue. Despite this, the lenient Commission for Standards in Parliament made an exception and allowed it until 30th November to hold its meeting, after which it would be removed from the register, ceasing to exist as an official Parliamentary group.

In a last-gasp move, members of the committee this morning received an email from Bryant's office notifying them of an AGM to be held on 26th November, allowing just three working days to prepare. Rules state that an AGM needs to be advertised the week before "as a bare minimum" in the All Party Notices, published each Thursday.

Many have complained that the group has become ineffectual since Chris Bryant and his office, which acts as its secretariat, wrestled the reins of power from Liberal Democrat Mike Hancock. Companies looking to trade between the UK and Russia had become concerned that Bryant was using the position to pursue an overtly aggressive agenda rather than focusing on the true aims and objectives of the APPG, which are "to promote dialogue between Britain and Russia and increase understanding of developments in Russia".

It was also recently revealed that Bryant has received nearly £17,500 in the last year from The Independent, owned by Russian billionaire father and son duo Alexander and Evgeny Lebedev, and received £2,500 in 2010 from PR firm Bell Pottinger, which has counted Boris Berezovsky amongst their clients.

Richard Royal, Chairman of Conservative Friends of Russia, commented:

"The fact that under Chris Bryant's stewardship, the APPG on Russia faced being disbanded through failure to hold an AGM really is the height of incompetence. To then give MPs only three days notice, most of which they won't be in Parliament for, is extremely bad practice and smacks of election-rigging. It sends a very clear message to individuals, businesses, organisations and charities engaging between Russia and the UK that this group is poorly run, doesn't care and isn't interested in them and their issues. Russia is a major country on the international stage and we need an effective Parliamentary Group led by a Chairman who is transparent and on the ball."


For more information contact Richard Royal of CFoR on or view

Details on the Russia APPG can be viewed here:

Rules on APPGs are available here:

The views expressed are those of the authors and are not necessarily representative of Conservative Party policy, but a contribution to debate.


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