Canada slaps sanctions on Roman Abramovich, other Russian oligarchs

Trudeau says billionaire who holds Israeli citizenship, other wealthy Russians will be prevented from doing business in Canada and have their assets frozen

Chelsea soccer club owner Roman Abramovich attends the UEFA Women's Champions League final soccer match in Gothenburg, Sweden, on May 16, 2021. (Martin Meissner/AP)
Chelsea soccer club owner Roman Abramovich attends the UEFA Women's Champions League final soccer match in Gothenburg, Sweden, on May 16, 2021. (Martin Meissner/AP)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday that Canada is imposing new sanctions on Russian oligarchs, including Roman Abramovich, as punishment for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking in Warsaw at the conclusion of a trip to Europe, Trudeau said the billionaire and four other individuals would “be prevented from dealings in Canada and their assets will be frozen.”

Canada is the second country to impose sanctions on Abramovich, after Britain did so on Thursday.

Abramovich also owns shares in the British multinational firm Evraz which among other things runs steel plants in Canada.

Trudeau said Canada is slapping sanctions on 32 entities working in the Russian defense sector and five current or former Russian senior officials “and associates of the regime who are complicit in President Putin’s choice to invade a peaceful and sovereign country.” The list includes Abramovich.

These are the latest in a series of Canadian sanctions against Russia since the invasion began on February 24.

Abramovich is Jewish, holds Israeli citizenship, and is a major donor to causes in Israel, which has caused complications for those organizations since the Russian invasion.

The Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum said Thursday it will suspend ties with Abramovich over his past connections with Putin.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses a press briefing with the Polish President at the presidential palace in Warsaw, Poland on March 10, 2022. (Janet Skarzynski/AFP)

Yad Vashem museum announced last month that Abramovich pledged an “eight-digit donation”  to strengthen its endeavors in the areas of Holocaust research and remembrance, estimated to be at least NIS 10 million ($3 million). Its announcement Thursday did not specify what would become of this money.

The Yad Vashem announcement came just over two weeks after a letter reportedly sent to US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides, urging Washington not to impose sanctions on the Russian-Israeli billionaire.

Among the signatories on the letter, dated February 6, were Yad Vashem chairman Dani Dayan, Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau, Sheba Medical Center director-general Prof. Yitshak Kreiss and representatives of several other major Israeli organizations and charities.

On Thursday, the UK officially sanctioned Abramovich, along with six other Russian oligarchs, over their ties to the Kremlin.

Abramovich announced last week that he was selling his Chelsea Football Club. He had bought the English Premier League soccer team in 2003, and bankrolled its successes at the domestic and European level. The latest sanctions imposed by the UK government freeze his ability to sell the club.

In this file photo taken on February 7, 2006, England’s Chelsea Football Club’s owner, Russian multibillionaire Roman Abramovich, visits the Western Wall in Jerusalem. (Orel Cohen/AFP)

The UK government has estimated Abramovich’s net worth at £9.4 billion ($12.2 billion). It also said it was mitigating the effect of the sanctions on Chelsea, by allowing the club to continue to operate.

The billionaire is one of Russia’s highest-profile oligarchs and has been highlighted in the past for links to Putin, who is being ostracized globally for launching the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

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