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Tuesday 18 June 2019

Billionaire Roman Abramovich 'granted Israeli citizenship' as he attempts to get British visa renewed

Let visa expire while he was abroad: Roman Abramovich. Photo: REUTERS
Let visa expire while he was abroad: Roman Abramovich. Photo: REUTERS

Ilan Ben Zion

An Israeli official says Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich has received Israeli citizenship after his British visa was not renewed.

The official, from Israel's Immigration Ministry, said the Chelsea football club owner arrived in Israel on Monday.

Israel grants automatic citizenship to anyone of Jewish descent.

Another official told Channel 10 News that Mr Abramovich submitted a citizenship request "like any other person" with Israel's Moscow embassy and was accepted.

Britain said this month it would review long-term visas of rich Russians after the March poisonings of a former Russian spy and his daughter in the English city of Salisbury.

The poisonings sparked a Cold War-style diplomatic crisis between Russia and the West, including the expulsion of hundreds of diplomats from both sides.

Britain has accused Russia of exposing them to a nerve agent. Moscow denies the charge.

Then-Home Secretary Amber Rudd said in March that the British government was reviewing Tier 1 investor visas granted to about 700 wealthy Russians.

Mr Abramovich's visa troubles first were reported earlier this month by the Russian media outlet The Bell. It quoted two unnamed sources as saying the football team owner's British visa expired in April.

Mr Abramovich was noticeably absent from the stands when Chelsea won England's FA Cup final at Wembley on May 19.

The British government said it would not comment on individual cases. Prime Minister Theresa May's office said visa applications from Russia are dealt with "rigorously and properly."

Press Association

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