Abramovich 'has right' to Israeli citizenship, says Kremlin

ANTHONY ANEX  EFE

ANTHONY ANEX EFE

The Russian owner of Chelsea Football Club Roman Abramovich has been granted Israeli citizenship amidst the review of his British visa, as reported by Israeli media.

"Those with Israeli passports are non-visa nationals, which means they do not need a visa to come to the UK as a visitor for a maximum period of six months", a spokesman for UK Prime Minister Theresa May told the Guardian.

Abramovich, who owns London's Chelsea soccer club and is worth $12.5 billion according to the British press, instantly became the richest person in Israel.

Israel's Law of Return gives every Jew, or child or grandchild of a Jew, the right to Israeli citizenship on demand.

Gaining Israeli citizenship seemingly represents quite a few challenges for the Russian tycoon when doing business on British soil.

Mr Abramovich, who is Jewish, flew to Tel Aviv on Monday and obtained documents confirming his status as an Israeli citizen, the Israeli news site Ynet reported.

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"He understands and respects that the United Kingdom are reviewing their processes and has therefore chosen to withdraw until a new process is in place", the source said, explaining that for the time being there was no need for Abramovich to have a visa.

The country's interior ministry confirmed Abramovich has gained citizenship there, The Times of Israel reports, adding that he is now the country's richest man. "He filed a request to receive an immigration permit, his documents were checked according to the law of return, and he was indeed found eligible".

Relations between Moscow and London have been strained since the poisoning of former Russian double-agent Sergei Skripal in Salisbury in March.

Earlier this week, Tel Aviv University announced that Abramovich donated $30 million to build a new Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology.

Abramovich is believed to have returned to Moscow after his visa expired last month, and was noticeably absent from the FA Cup final which saw Chelsea beat Manchester United on 19 May.

Mr Abramovich, 51, has a fortune estimated at £9.3 billion (Dh45.3 billion) by the Sunday Times.

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