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U.S. and U.K. urged to sanction Chelsea owner Abramovich, Arsenal shareholder Usmanov for Putin links


(FILES) A file picture taken on on October 31, 2011, shows Russian billionaire and Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich smiling during a break in proceedings at the High Court in central London. Abramovich is acquiring a 7.3 percent stake in mining giant Norilsk Nickel to help end a long running shareholder dispute, a statement said today. AFP PHOTO/CARL COURT (Photo credit should read CARL COURT/AFP/Getty Images)

AFP/Getty Images

On the eve of the London derby between Chelsea and Arsenal a leading Russian politician has called for the country’s oligarchs to be sanctioned by the West, two of which help fuel London’s biggest soccer clubs.

Both Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich and Arsenal’s major shareholder Alisher Usmanov have reportedly got close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and a former candidate to become the Mayor of Moscow, Alexei Navalny, now wants the West to hit back by “freezing the oligarchs’ financial assets and seizing their property.”

Navalny published this article in the New York Times, as the opposition politician is under house arrest and his personal blog has been blocked for “extremist” views, after he urged for “friendly ties with Ukraine and compliance with international law.” With both the Britain and the U.S. home to several of these incredibly wealthy individuals who are said to favor Putin, will either country act to oust oligarchs such as Abramovich and Usmanov?

According to reports from the Daily Telegraph, neither countries have, or are likely, to press charges against the billionaires as Russia’s annexation of Crimea and tension in Ukraine continues to simmer. Both Abramovich and Usmanov are major investors in the Premier League and their clubs Chelsea and Arsenal, respectively, so any such sanctions would have a huge impact on two of English soccer’s biggest sides. Abramovich declined to comment on the story, as in the past it’s been quoted that he has no close affiliation to the Russian government.

In the coming days and weeks more on this will leak out, but for major investors in some of England’s top teams, it seems as though Russia’s advances in Ukraine could cost them dear.

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