Russian billionaire Abramovich runs into UK visa issues
MOSCOW (AP) — An associate of Chelsea soccer club owner Roman Abramovich confirmed Monday that the Russian billionaire's British visa has not been renewed. Abramovich was noticeably absent from the stands when Chelsea won England's FA Cup final at Wembley on Saturday.
The associate told The Associated Press that Abramovich's visa renewal application is taking longer than usual to go through, saying the reason for the delay was unclear. He spoke on the condition of not being identified because he was not authorized to comment publicly.
Britain pledged to review the long-term visas of rich Russians in the aftermath of the March poisonings of Russian former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the English city of Salisbury. Britain blames Russia for the pair's exposure to a nerve agent, an allegation Moscow strongly denies.
The poisonings sparked a Cold War-style diplomatic crisis between Russia and the West, including the expulsion of hundreds of diplomats from both sides.
Then-Home Secretary Amber Rudd said in March that the British government was reviewing Tier 1 investor visas granted to about 700 wealthy Russians.
Abramovich's visa troubles first were reported Sunday by the Russian media outlet The Bell. It quoted two unnamed sources as saying the soccer team owner's British visa expired last month.
The British government said it would not comment on individual cases. Prime Minister Theresa May's office said visa applications from Russia are dealt with "rigorously and properly."
Yenisei Krasnoyarsk, a little-known team that will debut in the Russian Premier League next season, recommended that Abramovich put his considerable resources elsewhere if he can't make it to Chelsea games.
"Roman Arkadyevich (Abramovich), a Siberian club with great potential just got promoted," the club wrote on Twitter late Sunday. "We aren't hinting at anything."
James Ellingworth in Moscow contributed to this report.