UK adds Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich to sanction list

Roman Abramovich, owner of Chelsea smiles following his team’s victory during the UEFA Champions League Final between Manchester City and Chelsea FC at Estadio do Dragao on May 29, 2021 in Porto, Portugal.

Alexander Hassenstein | Uefa | Getty Images

Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, the outgoing owner of Chelsea FC and a longtime ally of President Vladimir Putin, has been sanctioned by UK authorities.

The British government said Thursday that Abramovich was among seven Russian businessmen added to its sanctions list as it ramps up pressure on the pariah state over its invasion of Ukraine.

The new list includes further members of Putin’s inner circle, such as Oleg Deripaska, Dmitri Lebedev and Igor Sechin.

All seven men will see their assets frozen and travel restricted.

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

The crackdown follows Ambramovich’s announcement last week that he would sell his prized Chelsea soccer club, alongside a string of luxury London properties, as he embarked on a fire sale of his UK assets.

The 55-year-old, whose wealth originally derives from the privatization of Russian industry, said at the time that the sale was in the “best interest of the club,” and that all net proceeds from the sale would be donated to victims of the war.

Following the sanctions announcement, the UK sports ministry said it would work closely with the club and wider football league to ensure matches could continue being played.

“The license will be kept under constant review and we will work closely with the football authorities,” a government spokesperson said.

There have been growing calls from British lawmakers to target Abramovich, who until now had avoided the sanctions faced by some of his peers even as he publicly shed several of his most valuable ties to the UK

Johnson said Thursday’s move demonstrated the government’s commitment to pressuring those with ties to the Kremlin as the bloody war enters its second week.

“Today’s sanctions are the latest step in the UK’s unwavering support for the Ukrainian people. We will be ruthless in pursuing those who enable the killing of civilians, destruction of hospitals and illegal occupation of sovereign allies,” he said.

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