Starmer calls for sanctions against ‘person of interest' Roman Abramovich

Johnson refuses to discuss individual cases

Thursday, 3rd March

keir starmer camdenrally Image 2019-09-01 at 00.12.16 (6)

Holborn and St Pancras MP Sir Keir Starmer

SIR Keir Starmer yesterday (Wednesday) questioned why Chelsea football club’s oligarch owner had not been sanctioned ­– amid the raft of government measures which followed the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The Labour Party leader challenged Boris Johnson during the weekly Prime Minister’s Questions slot as MPs wore blue and yellow ribbons in solidarity.

Mr Starmer, the MP for Holborn and St Pancras, told the House of Commons that Roman Abramovich was a “person of interest to the Home Office because of his links to the Russian state and his public association with corrupt activity and practices”, adding: “Last week, the Prime Minister said Abramovich was facing sanctions, then later corrected the record to say
he isn’t. Well, why on earth isn’t he?”

Mr Abramovich, known for his ruthless approach to hiring and firing managers in his quest for success and extravagant spending on new players, last night (Wednesday) confirmed that he was putting the European soccer champions on the market.

He said that “all net proceeds” from the sale would go to a new foundation providing help to “all victims of the war in Ukraine”.

In recent days, Mr Johnson had faced questions over whether Mr Abramovich has had a head start to dispose of his assets before any sanctions are enforced.

Mr Johnson told Mr Starmer that he could not comment on individual cases but said 275 people had already been sanctioned, adding that “the vice is tightening on the Putin regime and it will continue to tighten”.

Meanwhile, another wealthy Russian quickly issued a statement condemning the war. Mikhail Fridman, a billionaire banker who owns Athlone House next to Hampstead Heath, said on Monday: “I am deeply attached to the Ukrainian and Russian peoples and see the current conflict as a tragedy for them both.”

The owner of the Evening Standard, Evgeny Lebedev, issued a plea for peace on the front page of Monday’s edition of the newspaper.

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