Russian oligarch: What is an oligarch, who are the Russian oligarchs, are any in the UK, is Roman Abramovich one and why is he selling Chelsea?

SANCTIONS have been imposed on Russian oligarchs following President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine – but what is an oligarch and are any in the UK?

Friday, 4th March 2022, 10:51 am

The UK, the United States, and the European Union have placed sanctions on Russia after President Vladimir Putin’s televised address on February 24, stating that Russian troops were to invade Ukraine.

The UK sanctions include the freezing of assets and banning Russian ships from UK ports.

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Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich announced yesterday that he will sell the Premier League club amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Here's everything you need to know about Russian oligarchs:

What is a Russian oligarch?

An oligarch is a wealthy business leader who has a great deal of political influence.

The wealth of the individual is normally inherited or through industry and the oligarchs also have military and religious control.

An 'oligarch' is a member of an 'oligarchy', which is a power structure where very few people hold huge amounts of power.

Russian oligarchs are oligarchs of former soviet republics.

They rapidly accumulated their wealth following Russia's privatisation after the fall of the Soviet Union in the 1990s.

Who are the Russian oligarchs?

Russia has a long list of high net-worth individuals, but not all are oligarchs.

An extremely well-known oligarch in UK culture is Roman Abramovich.

The Russian businessman purchased London football club Chelsea for £140m in 2003.

Other Russian oligarchs include:

-Alexey Mordashov (chairman and shareholder of the Severstal conglomerate)

-Alexander Ponomarenko (chairman of the board for Sheremetyevo International Airport)

-Mikhail Fridman (founder of Alfa Bank)

-Alexander Abramov (chairman of Evraz and former scientist)

-Vagit Alekperov (president of Lukoil)

-Dmitry Rybolovlev (investor and former owner of Uralkali)

-Vladimir Potanin (chairman of Interros)

-Pyotr Aven (head of Alfa Bank)

-Vitaly Malkin (former banker and Russian senator)

-German Khan (co-founder and boardmember of Letter One)

-Alisher Usmanov (metal magnate)

-Gennady Timchenko (stakeholder in Russian raw material firms)

-Yury Slyusar (director of United Aircraft Corp)

-Elena Georgieva (chair of Novikombank board)

-Petr Fradkov (head of Promsvyazbank)

-Oleg Deripaska (founder of Basic Element industrial group)

-Denis Bortnikov (deputy president of lender VTB).

Only a few Russian oligarchs have spoken out on the conflict in Ukraine, including Oleg Deripaska and Mikhail Fridman.

Mr Fridman stated that the conflict in Ukraine needs to end as soon as possible and Mr Deipaska asked for peace via the Telegram messaging app.

Which oligarchs have faced UK sanctions?

Gennady Timchenko has been hit by having his assets frozen in the UK.

The 69-year-old oligarch and businessman owns the private investment group, Volga Group, and is one of the most powerful people in Russia.

He has faced sanctions alongside Igor and Boris Rotenberg over their ties with President Putin.

Boris Rotenberg is the co-owner of SMP bank and according to Forbes, he is believed to be worth $1.2bn.

In 2014, he was also placed under sanctions by the US over his relationship with President Putin.

However, he has not faced EU sanctions due to having Finnish citizenship.

Igor Rotenberg, the nephew of Boris, has also had his assets frozen in the UK as a result of the sanctions due to his uncle's links with President Putin.

Mr Rotenberg controls Gazprom Bureniye and is a shareholder of the Platon Electronic Toll Collection system.

Why is Roman Abramovich selling Chelsea?

It was announced on Wednesday that Roman Abramovich is selling Premier League football club Chelsea, with all net proceeds from the sale to be donated to the war in Ukraine.

Many have questioned his actions over the past week after he initially decided to hand over the 'stewardship and care' of the club to the foundation's trustees.

The Russian businessman stated that the sale of Chelsea ‘will not be fast-tracked but will follow due process’.

The move comes amid calls in the UK for Mr Abramovich to face sanctions following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Mr Abramovich has previously denied having close financial ties with President Putin or the Kremlin.

Labour leader Keir Starmer called for the Russian oligarch to be sanctioned as Boris Johnson stated that he could not comment on individual cases.

However, the prime minister told MPs that the UK has sanctioned 275 individuals and a ‘further 100 this week’.

Mr Johnson added: ‘What we will publish in addition, is a full list of all those associated with the Putin regime.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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