Starmer demands to know why Abramovich is not sanctioned


Keir Starmer today demanded to know ‘why on Earth’ Roman Abramovich is not facing sanctions – amid claims the oligarch is looking to sell his London property empire and Chelsea FC.

The Labour leader berated Boris Johnson over the lack of action against the Russian-Israeli billionaire during PMQs.

He told the Commons that Mr 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’.

Sir Keir said: ‘Last week, the Prime Minister said that Abramovich is facing sanctions. He later corrected the record to say that he isn’t. Well, why on earth isn’t he?’

Mr Johnson insisted it was not ‘appropriate’ to comment on individual cases – instead stressing that 275 individuals have been sanctioned and the government is proposing to publish a ‘full list of all those associated with the Putin regime’.

Later in the PMQs session, the premier underlined the importance of targeting people linked to Putin rather than Russians. 

The exchanges came amid claims Mr Abramovich is selling off his £200m London property portfolio within days to avoid having his assets frozen in case he is sanctioned by Britain.

Mr Abramovich vehemently denies he is close to the Kremlin or has done anything that would merit sanctions being imposed against him.

He has insisted he is involved in trying to broker peace between Russia and Ukraine.  

Mr Johnson

Sir Keir was wearing a ribbon in Ukraine colours

Keir Starmer (right) today asked Boris Johnson (left) ‘why on Earth’ Roman Abramovich is not facing sanctions 

There are claims Mr Abramovich (pictured) is looking to sell his London property empire and Chelsea FC

There are claims Mr Abramovich (pictured) is looking to sell his London property empire and Chelsea FC

Mr Abramovich is said to be looking to offload his 15-bedroom mansion at Kensington Palace Gardens, valued at more than £150million

Mr Abramovich is said to be looking to offload his 15-bedroom mansion at Kensington Palace Gardens, valued at more than £150million

Chelsea football club's Stamford Bridge home in west London

Chelsea football club’s Stamford Bridge home in west London

The billionaire oligarch’s future as Chelsea football club owner has been thrown into fresh doubt after an MP told parliament he was looking at offers to his Kensington mansion and riverside penthouse.

Mr Abramovich is expected to receive bids for the club ‘this week’ amid mounting pressure for the billionaire to step aside after being seen as an ally of Vladimir Putin.

The 55-year-old, who is said to be worth £12billion, announced his intention to place the stewardship of the club in the hands of the trustees of the Chelsea Foundation last week – two days after Russian forces launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The Charity Commission however has received a ‘serious incident report’ from the trustees amid concerns about how the plan can be enacted.

At PMQs, Sir Keir said: ‘We must stand up to Putin and those who prop up his regime. 

‘Roman Abramovich is the owner of Chelsea Football Club and various other high-value assets in the United Kingdom. He’s 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.

‘Last week, the Prime Minister said that Abramovich is facing sanctions. He later corrected the record to say that he isn’t. Well, why on earth isn’t he?’

Mr Johnson said it is not ‘appropriate’ for him to comment on individual cases at this stage, adding: ‘But what I can say and I stand by what I’ve said in the House and what we put on the record, but be there no doubt that the actions that we’ve already taken, that this House has already taken, are having an effect in Moscow, and by exposing the ownership of properties, of companies in the way that we are, by sanctioning 275 individuals already, a further 100 last week, that the impact is being felt.’

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

Earlier, Mr Johnson led a rare standing ovation in the House of Commons as the Ukraine ambassador was in the chamber.

Mr Johnson and MPs from all sides clapped and cheered after being informed that Vadym Prystaiko was attending.

Many members had dressed in the Ukraine national colours of blue and yellow and were wearing ribbons to show support against the invasion by Russia.  

Speaker Lindsay Hoyle noted after the ovation that clapping is not usually allowed in the Commons, but on this occasion it was warranted. 

Mr Johnson announced that the Disasters Emergency Committee has launched an humanitarian appeal, and the government will match every pound donated by the public – starting with an initial £20million. 

Boris Johnson and MPs from all sides clapped and cheered after being informed that Vadym Prystaiko was attending PMQs

Boris Johnson and MPs from all sides clapped and cheered after being informed that Vadym Prystaiko was attending PMQs

Mr Johnson walked over to the Commons from Downing Street with Ukrainian ambassador Vadym Prystaiko (right)

Mr Johnson walked over to the Commons from Downing Street with Ukrainian ambassador Vadym Prystaiko (right) 

Sir Lindsay said: ‘Your Excellency – we generally do not tolerate applause in the Chamber, but I think on this occasion the House will want to demonstrate our respect and support for your country and its people at this most difficult time.’ 

After the mark of respect, Mr Johnson told MPs: ‘Putin has gravely miscalculated; in his abhorrent assault on a sovereign nation, he has underestimated the extraordinary fortitude of the Ukrainian people and the unity and resolve of the free world in standing up to his barbarism.

‘The UN General Assembly will vote later today and we call on every nation to join us in condemning Russia and demanding that Putin turns his tanks around.

‘If instead Putin doubles down then so shall we, further ratcheting up economic pressure and supporting Ukraine with finance, with weapons and with humanitarian assistance.

‘Today the Disasters Emergency Committee is launching its Ukraine appeal and every pound donated by the British people will be matched by the Government, starting with £20million.’

The PM said he told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a call this morning that the UK would ‘do everything we can’ to speed up the process of getting weapons to his forces.

‘We are certainly determined to do everything we can to help Ukrainians fleeing the theatre of conflict.’ 

MPs turned to pay tribute to the people of Ukraine after hearing that the ambassador was attending PMQs

MPs turned to pay tribute to the people of Ukraine after hearing that the ambassador was attending PMQs 

Some MPs had dressed in Ukraine nation colours of blue and yellow and were wearing ribbons to show their support

Some MPs had dressed in Ukraine nation colours of blue and yellow and were wearing ribbons to show their support

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