Roman Abramovich reportedly granted Israeli citizenship

Israeli media reports say Russian billionaire and Chelsea club owner given citizenship after visa delays in the UK.

Russian billionaire and owner of Chelsea football club Roman Abramovich arrives at Commercial Court in London
Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich is reportedly worth $10.8bn [File: Olivia Harris/Reuters]

Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich has been granted Israeli citizenship and will move to Tel Aviv where he bought a property, according to media reports.

The move by the owner of the Chelsea football club comes as he finds himself without a visa to Britain.

The Kremlin said on Tuesday it was Abramovich’s right to take Israeli citizenship. 

“The Kremlin doesn’t think anything about this,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters when asked about Abramovich’s Israel move. “An entrepreneur has received Israeli citizenship. So what? It is his right.” 

Abramovich, 51, is Russia‘s 11th-richest man with a wealth of $10.8bn, according to estimates by Forbes magazine. He bought the English Premier League club in 2003.

His British visa expired last month but it was taking longer than usual to get it renewed, Reuters news agency reported.

The British government has declined to comment on his case.

The Ynet website that belongs to Israel’s biggest-selling daily, Yedioth Aharonoth, said Abramovich, who is Jewish, jetted into Tel Aviv on Monday and had received documents confirming his status as an Israeli citizen.

Israel’s interior ministry confirmed the offer of citizenship on a local television station on Monday.

“Roman Abramovich arrived at the Israeli embassy in Moscow like any other person,” an Israeli spokesperson told Channel 10. “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.”

An Israeli immigration absorption ministry spokeswoman declined to comment on the report citing individual privacy, but a spokeswoman for the Population Administration that oversees border control confirmed Abramovich was in Israel.

A spokesman for Abramovich also declined to comment.

Israel grants citizenship to any Jew wishing to move there, and a passport can be issued immediately.

Israeli passport holders can enter Britain without a visa for short stays, although they require visas to work there.

Abramovich has been a regular visitor to Israel and Ynet said he had bought a property that was formerly a hotel in an old Tel Aviv neighbourhood close to the Mediterranean shore.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies