Ukraine: Oligarch Abramovich alongside British on return from Russia

Ukraine: Oligarch Abramovich alongside British on return from Russia

Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich was under British and EU sanctions on the plane bringing back five Britons captured in Ukraine and is said to have played a “key role” in their release, one of them told The Sun newspaper “. on Friday.

John Harding, one of five Britons freed by Moscow in a prisoner swap with Kyiv, says the Russian billionaire, former owner of London football club Chelsea, introduced himself to one of the ex-prisoners, Shaun Pinner, on the plane from which he was taken they were picked up from Russia to Saudi Arabia.

Shaun Pinner “said to him, ‘You look a lot like Roman Abramovich,’ and he said, ‘That’s because it’s me,'” says Mr. Harding.

He adds that he, in turn, spoke to the oligarch’s assistant, who assured him that he had played a “key role” in the release of the five prisoners.

Roman Abramovich has been under the British government’s sanction since March 10, with Downing Street claiming to have evidence of his links to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who on February 24 ordered his army to invade Ukraine.

He is also on the list of figures sanctioned by the European Union.

According to John Harding, Shaun Pinner “did talk to him (Abramovich) about football for a long time” during the trip.

The five Britons – John Harding, Shaun Pinner, Aiden Aslin, Dylan Healy and Andrew Hill – were released in an exchange of 10 prisoners of war made possible through Saudi mediation.

The first two, along with Moroccan Brahim Saadoun, who was also involved in the prisoner swap, had been sentenced to death for mercenaries by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine — a controversial charge.

Last month, the currently imprisoned Kremlin opponent Alexei Navalny called for the systematic punishment of all oligarchs close to Vladimir Putin or supporting the war in Ukraine.

He particularly regretted that Roman Abramovich is still evading American sanctions to this day, while some of his companies “continue to supply metal to the Russian Defense Ministry.”