Chelsea owner Abramovich granted Israeli citizenship

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Russian oligarch, Roman Abramovich, has the right to Israeli citizenship, the Kremlin said Tuesday after the Chelsea football club-owner reportedly travelled to Israel and became a citizen after delays to his British visa application.

The Tier 1 investor visa that Abramovich has used to visit London regularly in recent years expired in April, and has yet to be renewed amid reports that United Kingdom authorities had demanded that he declare the source of his vast fortune as political tensions with Russian Federation escalate.

The Israeli passport allows its holder to travel to Britain and some other countries without a visa.

Abramovich's previous tier-1 visa, which allows anyone who invests more than two million pounds the British economy to stay for 40 months, was granted before tighter regulations were introduced in April 2015.

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.

Abramovich's visa troubles first were reported earlier this month by the Russian media outlet The Bell.

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An official at Nativ, a government department that deals with Jewish communities in the former Soviet Union, said Mr Abramovich had applied for an immigration visa at Israel's embassy in Moscow. However, now with Israeli citizenship in hand, Abramovich is expected to move to Tel Aviv soon.

Also, Abramovich is of Jewish faith and the Israel government is quite welcoming of Jewish people in general.

Spokesmen for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office contacted by AFP did not confirm or deny the report.

Abramovich owns Chelsea, but the day-to-day running of the football side of the club is overseen by director Marina Granovskaia.

Mr Abramovich, 51, would be the richest person in Israel. He was formerly governor of Chukotka from 2000 to 2008. Putin repeatedly urged Abramovich to stay on as governor while he was already living between Russian Federation and Britain.

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