U.K. Adds Putin Ally Roman Abramovich, Second-richest Israeli, to Sanctions List

The U.K. said it would allow Chelsea to continue playing matches after it imposed sanctions on Abramovich, a dual Russian-Israeli citizen, halting his plan to sell the club

Reuters
Haaretz
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Roman Abramovich attends the UEFA Women's Champions League final soccer match against FC Barcelona in Gothenburg, Sweden, last year.
Roman Abramovich attends the UEFA Women's Champions League final soccer match against FC Barcelona in Gothenburg, Sweden, last year.Credit: AP Photo/Martin Meissner
Reuters
Haaretz

Britain said on Thursday it had imposed asset freezes on seven Russian businessmen including Roman Abramovich, Igor Sechin, Oleg Deripaska and Dmitri Lebedev after they were added to the country's sanctions list.

"There can be no safe havens for those who have supported Putin’s vicious assault on Ukraine," British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.

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Abramovich is the owner of Chelsea soccer club, Deripaska has stakes in En+ Group, Sechin is the Chief Executive of Rosneft and Lebedev is Chairman of the Board of Directors of Bank Rossiya. He is also the second-richest Israeli person.

Britain's government said on Thursday it would enable Chelsea to continue playing matches after it imposed sanctions on Abramovich, halting his plan to sell the English Premier League side.

Abramovich had put the club up for sale, but Britain's asset freeze and sanctions on him bar that process under the terms of the license granted to the club.

Nadine Dorries, Britain's minister for sport, said the government had issued a special license to enable Chelsea to play fixtures, pay staff and enable ticket holders to attend matches, because it did not want to harm the reigning European and world soccer champions.

"I know this brings some uncertainty, but the government will work with the league and clubs to keep football being played while ensuring sanctions hit those intended," she said on Twitter.

"Football clubs are cultural assets and the bedrock of our communities. We're committed to protecting them."

Last month, Israel's official Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem announced that Abramovich, who holds Israeli citizenship, would be donating tens of millions of dollars to the institution.

According to Yad Vashem’s announcement, the billionaire’s donation will go toward strengthening the institution’s research work, “at a time in which phenomena of distortion and denial of the Holocaust and political use of the Holocaust are worryingly on the rise throughout the world.”

In early February, Yad Vashem, along with representatives of several other Israeli institutions, sent a letter asking U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides to refrain from sanctioning Abramovich for “his contribution to the Jewish people,” according to a weekend report on Israel’s Channel 12 television.

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