Days of Russian elite travelling freely to UK are over if visa refused for political reasons

By Dr Andrew Foxall

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For years, a group of extraordinary rich politically-connected business owners – the oligarchs – have enjoyed jet-setting between Russia and the West. They made their money in Russia, but didn’t want to keep it there. The UK, with its rule of law, Stucco-fronted townhouses, and Michelin-starred restaurants, was always a favoured destination.

And so the news that the UK is yet to renew the visa of Roman Abramovich, the Russian billionaire and owner of Chelsea football club, will send shivers down the spines of his fellow oligarchs.

Until recently, Abramovich had travelled regularly between London and Moscow on his private Boeing 767. The UK’s 13th richest person with a £9.3 billion fortune, he owns a £90 million home in Kensington Palace Gardens, nicknamed Billionaires’ Row. In 2011, Abramovich told a British court that he lives an extravagant lifestyle, including owning properties in London and France and the luxury 533ft super-yacht Eclipse.

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