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A Portuguese Rabbi Detained in Connection With the Naturalization of Russian Tycoon Abramovich

By: Ahmed Fathi / RFERL

Authorities in Portugal arrested a rabbi over the naturalization of many Jews, including Roman Abramovich, the Russian billionaire owner of Chelsea Football club, who was sanctioned by the UK for the unjustified invasion of Ukraine.

The Premier League board of directors dismissed Abramovich as a director of Chelsea based on his status under the sanctions.

Late on March 11, authorities stated Daniel Litvak, the head of Porto's Jewish community, had been arrested for "influence peddling, active corruption, falsification of documents, money laundering, or even tax evasion."

Litvak was reportedly caught a day earlier as he prepared to travel for Israel. On March 12, he will face a judge who will decide his punishment.

Prosecutors in Portugal said in January that they were looking into Abramovich's naturalization.

The decision to naturalize Abramovich was based on a document from Porto's Jewish community proving his Sephardic ancestry.

The owner of European champions Chelsea, third in the English Premier League, profited from a 2013 Portuguese law granting Portuguese nationality to any descendants of Sephardic Jews persecuted and banished in the late 15th century.

The Jewish Community of Porto in northern Portugal awarded him a certificate attesting to his heritage.

"Following the imposition of sanctions by the U.K. government, the Premier League board disqualified Roman Abramovih as a director of Chelsea Football Club," the league stated on March 12.

For its actions in Ukraine, the West has slapped severe sanctions on Moscow. In addition, close associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin have been banned.

Abramovich, 55, placed Chelsea up for sale earlier this month, promising to donate the revenues to Ukrainian conflict victims.


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