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Friday, May 27, 2022

The two faces of Roman Abramovich

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This day will probably remain one of the most revolutionary days in the life of Roman Abramovich. On March 10, the British state confiscated the assets of the Russian oligarch in Great Britain. This practically makes him an undesirable person. What hits him the most: he has to leave the Chelsea football club after almost 20 years.

Abramovich himself is in Istanbul that Thursday. There he meets one of the Ukrainian participants in the peace negotiations with Russia. And he is delivering a message from Vladimir Putin.

The oligarch had met the Russian president in Moscow the day before to hand him a handwritten note from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, writes the British Times. These notes are said to have contained Ukraine’s original terms for ending the war. Putin’s message, which Abramovich was supposed to take with him to Istanbul, was: “Tell him I will destroy them.”

[Alle aktuellen Nachrichten zum russischen Angriff auf die Ukraine bekommen Sie mit der Tagesspiegel-App live auf ihr Handy. Hier für Apple- und Android-Geräte herunterladen.]

The man to whom Abramovich is delivering Putin’s message and with whom he is discussing the impasse is Rustem Umerov. He is a member of the Ukrainian parliament and one of the few people Zelenskyy has entrusted with the mission of making peace with Russia. It is not known exactly what Abramovich and Umerow discussed in Istanbul. One thing is clear: since Putin’s devastating response, the negotiating parties have moved a little closer.

It’s no coincidence that Abramovich knew Umerov of all people: he is one of the Crimean Tatars, a Turkic-speaking ethnic group originally living on the Russian-annexed peninsula. Umerov, a former businessman, speaks Turkish and Russian.

As reported by various media, Abramovich is said to have participated in the negotiations in kyiv a few days earlier, that is, on March 3-4, together with representatives of the Ukrainian side.

Abramovich and the two Ukrainians are said to have been poisoned by the Russians with “chemical weapons”. This is reported by the “Wall Street Journal”, the investigative portal “Bellingcat” and a journalist from the “Guardian”. They had reported red, watery eyes, and the skin on their faces and hands had dull. This is how the “Wall Street Journal” puts it, citing negotiating circles.

Rustem Umerow said Monday, without referring directly to the reports, only: “I’m fine. This is my response to all the yellow news going around. Please don’t trust unconfirmed information. We also have an information war.”

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