Roman Abramovich granted Israeli citizenship, reports say

Chelsea Football Club owner and high-profile Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich has been granted Israeli citizenship, ...

Posted: May 29, 2018 1:37 PM
Updated: May 29, 2018 1:37 PM

Chelsea Football Club owner and high-profile Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich has been granted Israeli citizenship, according to Israeli media.

Israel's Interior ministry told CNN that Abramovich had arrived in Tel Aviv on Monday, but wouldn't confirm his citizenship status.

Israel's Absorption Ministry, which is responsible for immigrants during their first three years in the country, also declined to comment on the case as it's a private matter.

The Russian-Jewish billionaire would have been granted citizenship under the Law of Return which allows Jews to become citizens of Israel.

Abramovich had faced delays renewing his UK visa earlier this month and missed seeing Chelsea win the FA Cup at London's Wembley Stadium. An Israeli citizen with a full passport can visit the UK for up to six months without a visa, according to the UK government's web portal.

A source close to Abramovich told CNN last week that the billionaire's UK visa had expired about three weeks earlier, and that an application was made for a new one but the process of renewal had taken longer than expected. There had been no indication about why the UK visa process had taken so long, the source said.

But diplomatic tensions between London and Moscow have increased after the poisoning of a former Russian spy with a nerve agent in the English city of Salisbury in March.

Answering a question from CNN during a call last week with journalists, Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said businesses in the UK were "facing various manifestations of unfriendly and unscrupulous competitions."

Spokespeople for Abramovich, Chelsea Football Club and the British Home Office all declined to comment on his visa status.

Abramovich, who bought Chelsea in 2003, is Russia's 11th richest man with a worth of $10.8 billion, according to Forbes magazine.

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