Roman Abramovich obtains European citizenship thanks to a Portuguese passport | Romain Abramovich

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Billionaire oligarch Roman Abramovich became an EU citizen, three years after withdrawing his UK visa application amid diplomatic tensions between London and Moscow.

The surprise development was confirmed on Saturday by his spokesperson, who revealed that the Russian-born owner of Chelsea Football Club had obtained Portuguese citizenship earlier this year.

Abramovich’s successful request used a Portuguese law offering naturalization to descendants of Sephardic Jews who were expelled from the Iberian Peninsula during the Inquisition, according to an article in the Portuguese newspaper. Public.

In 2018, Abramovich chose not to pursue a visa application in the UK amid international recriminations over the poisoning of Salisbury and changes making it more difficult for powerful Russians to obtain visas.

The complications had prompted Abramovich to withdraw his plan to build a £ 500million stadium for Chelsea, a project which would have reportedly brought in more than £ 20million in community benefits to the surrounding area.

His new European passport means the businessman will have to pass Britain’s points-based post-Brexit immigration system and meet “specific requirements” if he now chooses to stay and work in the UK.

His Portuguese passport, however, follows his acquisition of an Israeli passport in late 2018, which already allowed him to visit family in the UK without needing a visa.

Artist’s impression of the redeveloped stadium Abramovich planned to build for Chelsea before changing his citizenship plans. Photograph: Hussain Nazrul / Herzog and de Meuron / PA

Thousands of Israeli Jews have obtained Portuguese citizenship since the law was passed in 2015, with candidate genealogies verified by experts looking for evidence of interest in Sephardic culture. Abramovich is said to have donated money to projects honoring the legacy of Portuguese Sephardic Jews in Hamburg.

Documents from the Justice Department suggest that Abramovich was granted citizenship on April 30.

Some observers may see the granting of a Portuguese passport as a new way for a Russian oligarch to gain coveted European citizenship.

One popular way for Russian oligarchs – some of whom have been accused of corruption – to obtain European passports was to exploit controversial “golden visa” programs.

In 2017, the Guardian revealed how the government of Cyprus raised more than € 4 billion in four years by granting citizenship to the super-rich, granting them the right to live and work across Europe in return for a cash investment . Documents indicated that more than 400 passports per year were issued under this program.

It is estimated that 300,000 Jews lived in Spain when, in 1492, the “Catholic monarchs”, Queen Isabella of Castile and King Ferdinand of Aragon, ordered them and the Muslims in the country to convert to Catholicism or to leave. Tens of thousands of people fled to Portugal, to be persecuted or deported there in 1496.

Estimates of the total number of Jews, Muslims, Cathars, people accused of witchcraft, scientists and other non-Catholics killed by the Spanish Inquisition, which Sixtus IV authorized in a papal bull in 1478, have ranged from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands .

Abramovich made a fortune – estimated at over £ 10 billion – in the Russian oil industry in the 1990s and bought Chelsea in 2003.


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