Londongrad: Iran's Hit Squads
Londongrad episode 1: The advance party
Britain prides itself on being impregnable; a country which hasn’t been invaded for 1000 years and can’t be bought. The Lebedevs give the lie to all that. They spent a lot, but not a fortune, buying their way into British public life. And they did it in a way which perhaps nobody had tried before: they amused the people who mattered.
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Introducing: Londongrad02:50Season 1 of Londongrad: How the Lebedevs partied their way to power is a 6 part series investigating two men who are at the heart of the story of Britain opening its doors to Russian oligarchs. Alexander Lebedev is a former KGB officer. He’s the man with the money and - as we’ll see - with the plan. Alexander’s son, Evgeny, rose from a fixture on the social scene to a seat in the House of Lords. He did it with Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s help and against the advice of the security services. There’s never been a story quite like it. Launching Thursday 2nd June, with episodes dropping weekly. Tortoise members and Tortoise+ subscribers on Apple Podcasts can exclusively listen to the first three episodes. Just subscribe to Tortoise+ on Apple Podcasts or join Tortoise as a member, where you will also get to more of our investigations into Londongrad, as well as invites to exclusive events. For half price digital membership for £50 go to tortoisemedia.com/londongrad and enter the code Paul50.
2. Londongrad episode 2: The Royal Borough of Kensington and Moscow33:00The oligarchs who made their way to London in the early 2000s and changed it presented themselves as embodiments of the new Russia; members of the global elite, and arms-length beneficiaries of Vladimir Putin’s new order, not slaves to it. Those were the terms on which Britain let them in, but it was mugged.To access the first four episodes now subscribe to Tortoise+ on Apple Podcasts or join Tortoise as a member. Visit tortoisemedia.com/londongrad and use the code Paul50 for half price membership for £50 per year.
3. Londongrad episode 3: Project Venus32:20There comes a moment in any successful invasion of a country when you can no longer hide, your plans have to become obvious. It’s a moment of jeopardy but if you can get through it - as Alexander and Evgeny Lebedev did in Britain when they bought first the Evening Standard and later The Independent - then the scale of your ambitions can shift dramatically.To access five episodes now subscribe to Tortoise+ on Apple Podcasts or join Tortoise as a member. Visit tortoisemedia.com/londongrad and use the code Paul50 for half price membership for £50 per year.
4. Londongrad episode 4: Doubling down32:41Years of warnings about Russia’s intentions had gone unheeded; discounted as scaremongering. But then came the invasion of Crimea, and the end of any doubts. In spite of it all, the Lebedevs' ascent in London continued, and so did the extraordinary parties. Subscribe to Tortoise+ on Apple Podcasts or join Tortoise as a member to access the whole series now. Go to www.tortoisemedia.com/londongrad and use the code: Paul50
5. Londongrad episode 5: A blind eye34:01The Intelligence and Security Committee of the British Parliament produced a report into Russian interference in British democracy. Boris Johnson saw it before his general election landslide in 2019. But his government went out of its way to make sure it didn’t see the light of day until long after the election had been fought and won.To access all episodes of Londongrad right away subscribe to Tortoise+ on Apple Podcasts or join Tortoise as a member www.tortoisemedia.com/londongrad. Use the code: Paul50 to get 50% off
6. Londongrad episode 6: Lord of the spies36:36It’s no secret that political patronage can get you a place in the House of Lords. But even people who understand the system well - even peers themselves - were appalled when Boris Johnson decided to extend his patronage to Evgeny Lebedev.
7. Londongrad season 1 bonus episode: The Johnson affair33:52A former KGB officer, Britain’s foreign secretary – and a potential national security breach
1. Introducing Londongrad Season 2: Iran's Hit Squads02:15Introducing Season 2 of Londongrad: Iran's Hit Squads.Award-winning investigative reporter Paul Caruana Galizia returns to report the story of the foiled assassination attempts on British soil of Iranian nationals. Since January 2022, there has been an attempted assassination or kidnap at least once a month – all ordered by the Iranian government. In this four-part series, Paul will delve into how these attempts unfolded, why they have become so prevalent and who is behind them. It's a story about Iran, about freedom of the press, but most of all, it’s about Britain – who the country chooses to protect and why.Episodes 1 + 2 are available for free. To get early access to final two episodes of the series, and ad-free listening, subscribe to Tortoise+ on Apple podcasts or join Tortoise as a member, where you can access more of our reporting, live events and support our work. Just visit tortoisemedia.com/hitsquads for an exclusive offer of £60 a year.