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Chelsea FC director sanctioned with asset freeze amid clampdown on oligarchs

Roman Abramovich and Eugene Tenenbaum (Nick Potts/PA)
Roman Abramovich and Eugene Tenenbaum (Nick Potts/PA)

A director of Chelsea Football Club is one of two oligarchs the Foreign Office said it has sanctioned with an estimated £10 billion asset freeze, the largest in UK history.

The Government described the pair as “Russian oligarchs” and long-standing business associates of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich.

The Foreign Office said Eugene Tenenbaum, a director of the west London club, has been sanctioned with an asset freeze alongside David Davidovich.

Mr Davidovich has been described as “Abramovich’s much lower profile right hand man”.

Roman Abramovich File Photo
Roman Abramovich (Adam Davy/PA)

The Foreign Office said the frozen assets connected with the pair are estimated to total up to £10 billion, the largest asset freeze action in UK history.

It brings the total number of oligarchs, family members and associates sanctioned to 106 since the war in Ukraine started.

It comes as Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky reiterated calls for the UK to increase the supply of weapons to his nation “sooner and faster”.

He told the BBC: “The United States, the United Kingdom, some European countries – they are trying to help and are helping – but still we need it sooner; sooner and faster. The key word is now.”

Mr Zelensky also lashed out at European nations that continue to purchase Russian oil.

According to a BBC translation, he said: “We don’t understand how you can make money out of blood. Unfortunately, this is what some countries have been doing. European countries.”

On the new sanctions, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said: “We are tightening the ratchet on Putin’s war machine and targeting the circle of people closest to the Kremlin. We will keep going with sanctions until Putin fails in Ukraine. Nothing and no one is off the table.”

The Foreign Office said Mr Tenenbaum has described himself as one of Mr Abramovich’s closest business associates.

It said corporate filings show that he took control of Evrington Investments Limited, an Abramovich-linked investment company, on February 24 immediately following Russia invading Ukraine.

He is now subject to an asset freeze, the Government said.

Mr Davidovich took over Evrington Investments from Mr Tenenbaum in March, the Foreign Office said.

Mr Davidovich is now subject to an asset freeze and travel ban.

Russia Ukraine War
Russian missile cruiser Moskva, the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet in 2008 (PA)

Meanwhile, a western official has told reporters that damage to the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet – regardless of how it was caused – would be an “enormous loss” to the country’s military credibility.

Ukraine claimed that its forces struck the Moskva warship with missiles overnight, but Russia said it was badly damaged by an onboard fire that forced a mass evacuation.

In a briefing on Thursday afternoon, a western official said Ukraine’s claim of striking the ship was “credible”.

“I can’t definitively tell you exactly what has happened… but I am not aware previously of a fire onboard a capital warship which has led to the ammunition magazine exploding as a consequence,” they said.

“Were that to have been the case – were it just to have been an accident – it’s a remarkably inept piece of control by the Russian military. And I find it difficult to believe that that would have been the case in this instance.

“So the claim by the Ukrainian forces, I think, is credible.”

They added: “The loss of the Moskva is a significant loss, I think, a little bit in terms of capability, but in terms of credibility for Russian forces it’s an enormous loss – regardless of how it’s happened – whether it’s as a consequence of ineptitude onboard or an attack by Ukrainian forces.

“Almost regardless of how it’s happened, it’s a massive blow for Russian credibility about what they’re doing in their operation.”