London, Dec 6 (ANI): Several of Mike Hancock's colleagues have revealed that they raised concerns over his sympathies with Russia and his string of Soviet assistants before one was accused of espionage.
The Liberal Democrat MP defended his assistant Katia Zatuliveter, after she was issued a deportation order over her alleged links to Russian intelligence services.
Chris Bryant, Labour's former Europe Minister, said he moved to replace Hancock at the head of the cross-party Russian group because of his "pro-Putin and pro-Medvedev position".
"The combination of being on the delegation to the Western European Union, the Council of Europe, his membership of the commons defence select committee and his position as a Portsmouth MP: you can see how he was attractive," the Telegraph quoted Bryant as telling the Guardian.
Bryant claimed Zatuliveter walked out in fury following the vote which saw Hancock replaced as chairman.
"I couldn't understand why an MP from somewhere in the south-west had a Russian researcher. She was only really interested in doing Russia stuff. She seemed slightly odd," he added.
Matyas Eorsi, a Hungarian MP and ex-leader of the council's liberal group said the women were "all the same type: long-legged, good-looking blondes, never older than 25, fluent in French, English and often German, and with a higher education".
He added, "Hancock was surrounded by very young, very beautiful, very attractive Russian and Ukranian girls. I don't exclude that these girls had a double mandate."
Ukranian MP Serhiy Holovaty said, "My demand was to put a ban on the exceptional "right" of Mike to bring every time to our meetings a new person of this type," adding that he suspected they were "connected" to the FSB, Russia's spy network.
Hancock said he had taken young women to dinners with Alde members about six times in a 13-year period, adding, "They certainly weren't assistants of mine. They were people doing internships at the Council of Europe, or something like that." (ANI)