Yad Vashem to break ties with Roman Abramovich over Putin connections

Earlier on Thursday, the UK officially sanctioned the Russian-Israeli billionaire, complicating his attempt to sell his football club.

 Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich walks past the High Court in London on November 16, 2011.  (photo credit: REUTERS/SUZANNE PLUNKETT)
Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich walks past the High Court in London on November 16, 2011.
(photo credit: REUTERS/SUZANNE PLUNKETT)

Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority, announced on Thursday that it was suspending its ties to Russian-Israeli billionaire Roman Abramovich, 55, over his past connections with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Earlier on Thursday, the UK officially sanctioned Abramovich, complicating his attempt to sell his football club.

On February 22, Yad Vashem announced a strategic partnership with Abramovitch, who was set to donate tens of millions of dollars.

Last week, Abramovich came under scrutiny for his close ties to Putin, leading him to announce the selling of the Chelsea Football Club. Abramovich has owned the club since 2003. 

The move came as part of a wave of Western sanction packages slammed against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. 

US VP Joe Biden looks at pictures of Jews killed in the Holocaust during a visit to the Hall of Names at the Yad Vashem Holocaust History Museum in Jerusalem March 9, 2010 (credit: RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS)US VP Joe Biden looks at pictures of Jews killed in the Holocaust during a visit to the Hall of Names at the Yad Vashem Holocaust History Museum in Jerusalem March 9, 2010 (credit: RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS)

"In the current situation, I have therefore taken the decision to sell the club, as I believe this is in the best interest of the club," he said at the time, adding that all proceeds will go to “victims of the war in Ukraine.” 

Abramovich is the best known among several Russian Jewish “oligarchs” with close ties to Putin, many of whom have donated heavily to Jewish causes over the years. Several of the oligarchs have already been sanctioned by Western governments, meaning that they are being cut off from the global financial system. Abramovich is seen as a likely next target for sanctions.  

Negotiation talks between Russia and Ukraine have so far been unsuccessful, but Abramovich may ahve had a helping hand in them. Last week, Abramovich began assisting the negotiations, at the request of Ukraine.