Britain sanctioned Chelsea soccer club owner Roman Abramovich and Igor Sechin, CEO of Russian oil company Rosneft, imposing asset freezes and travel restrictions, because of their ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The two billionaires, together with industrialist Oleg Deripaska and four other Russian oligarchs, are the most high-profile persons to be added to Britain’s sanctions list since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and come after criticism that the UK has been moving too slowly.
The measure puts Abramovich’s aspirations to sell the Premier League club, the current European champions, on hold, however the government stated that the squad could continue play.
“Today’s sanctions are the latest step in the UK’s unwavering support for the Ukrainian people. We will be ruthless in pursuing those who enable the killing of civilians, destruction of hospitals and illegal occupation of sovereign allies.”
There had been strong calls from British parliamentarians for action against Abramovich and other Russian oligarchs, with accusations that Johnson’s government was moving too slowly in comparison to the European Union and the United States.
Sechin, whom Britain characterised as Putin’s right hand man, was previously sanctioned by the United States and the European Union, and his yacht was confiscated by French officials last week.
Others on the list include Oleg Deripaska, who owns En+ Group, Dmitri Lebedev, chairman of Bank Rossiya, Alexei Miller, CEO of energy behemoth Gazprom, and Nikolai Tokarev, president of Russia’s state-owned pipeline operator Transneft.
Britain stated that the seven individuals added to the sanctions list have a combined net worth of 15 billion pounds.
As a result of Thursday’s move, Abramovich is barred from transacting with British individuals and enterprises, and he is also barred from entering or remaining in the country. His spokeswoman declined to react right away.
He declared last week that he will sell Chelsea and donate the proceeds to Ukrainian war victims.
Abramovich is the largest shareholder in the Russian steelmaker Evraz, which is listed in London. It dropped by 16% when the sanctions were announced.
The article on Britain’s sanctions list characterised Abramovich as “a prominent Russian businessman and pro-Kremlin oligarch,” with a net worth of $9 billion. It stated that he had “a close relationship for decades”” with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
It claimed that Abramovich benefited financially or materially from either the Russian president or the Russian government as a result of his friendship with Putin.
“This includes tax breaks received by companies linked to Abramovich, buying and selling shares from and to the state at favourable rates, and the contracts received in the run up to the FIFA 2018 World Cup,” the website said.