Chelsea owner Abramovich obtains Portuguese citizenship | Top news


LISBON (Reuters) – Billionaire Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich has become a citizen of Portugal, adding the passport of the European Union member country to his Russian and Israeli passports.

A spokesperson for Abramovich confirmed an article in Portuguese newspaper Publico on Saturday that cited Justice Ministry documents that the businessman of Russian origin obtained Portuguese citizenship on April 30.

Abramovich’s case was based on a Portuguese law granting naturalization to descendants of Sephardic Jews who were expelled from the Iberian Peninsula during the medieval Inquisition, the newspaper said.

Thousands of Israeli Jews have obtained Portuguese citizenship since the law was passed in 2015. The number of such applications has increased in Portugal since a similar citizenship offer to Sephardic Jews by Spain ended in 2019.

The genealogies of the candidates are verified by experts who also look for evidence of interest in Sephardic culture.

Abramovich has donated to projects honoring the legacy of Portuguese Sephardic Jews in the German city of Hamburg, according to the Porto Mazal Jewish Community Information Portal.

Little is known about the history of Sephardic Jews in Russia, although Abramovich is a common surname of Ashkenazi Jewish origin.

Abramovich made a fortune, now estimated at $ 14.3 billion according to Forbes, in the Russian oil industry in the 1990s and bought the Chelsea Football Club in 2003. He was regional governor in Russia from 2000 to 2008 and took Israeli citizenship in 2018.

About 300,000 Jews were living in Spain when, in 1492, the monarchs Isabella and Ferdinand ordered them and the country‘s Muslims to convert to Catholicism or to leave. Tens of thousands of people fled to Portugal, to be persecuted or deported there in 1496.

(Report by Andrei Khalip, edited by Timothy Heritage)

Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.


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