SUBWAYWith Roman Abramovich, the British government has now also sanctioned the most prominent Russian oligarch with interests in the UK. The government announced on Thursday that his assets in the UK would be confiscated and that he would no longer be allowed to enter the country. The same applies to six other Russians, including Oleg Deripaska and Igor Sechin. The government noted that Abramovich has not yet been sanctioned by any allies.
In the statement, he was identified as a “pro-Kremlin oligarch.” He has had a “close relationship for decades” with Russian President Vladimir Putin, from whom he has benefited financially. The document mentions tax benefits for companies linked to Abramovich, who buy and sell Russian government securities on favorable terms and order ahead of the 2018 Russia World Cup. “Abramovitch has received preferential treatment and concessions from Putin and the Russian government “, he said in summary.
Abramovich has repeatedly denied any ties to Putin. His fortune – London estimates it at more than eleven billion euros – is mainly due to cheap purchases of Russian state companies during the presidency of Boris Yeltsin. In the year Putin took office, Abramovich was elected to the Duma and was governor of Chukotka until 2008. At that time he already owned the British Premier League football club Chelsea and several British properties. He supported numerous charitable initiatives in Russia, Great Britain, Israel and other countries, mainly of Jewish origin.
London stopped extending his visa in 2018, after which Abramovich became an Israeli (and later Portuguese) citizen. This allowed him to continue in the kingdom. After the first threats of sanctions from the British government, he put his football club up for sale (with an estimated value of 3,000 million euros). The press reported on several interested parties.
At the moment, the club can no longer sell tickets or carry out any other commercial transactions. However, the government issued a “decree” to ensure that season tickets can continue to watch the games.
On Thursday afternoon, the Israeli Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem also announced that it was suspending the “strategic partnership” with Abramovich, “in light of recent events,” it said. Just before the outbreak of the war, Abramovich made a donation of tens of millions of dollars to Yad Vashem, the second-largest individual donation the institution has ever received. Abramovich is considered the second richest person in Israel.
The donation brought Yad Vashem considerable criticism. Outrage grew when Israeli media reported that Yad Vashem director Dani Dayan, along with representatives of other Abramovich-sponsored institutions, had petitioned the US ambassador in early February to exempt the oligarch from sanctions. In a newspaper interview in January, Dayan advocated ensuring robust state funding for the Holocaust memorial, arguing that it would otherwise rely on private donors. “People donate with specific intentions and that could create bias. We are trying very hard to prevent that,” the director said in an interview with the Israeli newspaper Haaretz at the time.