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Roman Abramovich Gets EU Citizenship

Roman Abramovich

Roman Abramovich

Roman Abramovich can now add Portuguese citizenship to the Israeli and Russian citizenship that the Russian oligarch already had. With his Abramovich is now a citizen of the European Union.

The EU citizenship should help Roman Abramovich with his business dealings in England. The owner of the British Premiere League Chelsea Football Club had previously failed in a bid for British citizenship. The strained relations between Britain and Russia meant that it would be hard for him to travel to England and that he would personally be affected by any financial sanctions imposed on Russia.

Roman Abramovich did acquire Israeli citizenship, however, but having European citizenship is much better for him as it grants freedom of travel, to work and to do business anywhere within the European Union. And while England left the E.U. in Brexit, it still has especially close ties with the Union.

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So, how did a Russian Jew get to become a Portuguese citizen?

Well, in recent years both Portugal and Spain have been working to try and right a more than 500 year old wrong. The two nations have been offering citizenship to Jews who can show that their ancestors once lived there.

In 1492, the year that Ferdinand and Isabella completed the re-conquest of Spain and established their new empire, the same year that Columbus set sail for the new world, the two monarchs celebrated their victory by expelling all of the Jews from Spain. And Portugal did too.

Spain in Hebrew was known by the biblical name “Spha’rad.” As such, the Jews of Spain became known as “Sephardim” or “Sephardic.” After the expulsion, they settled mainly in nearby North Africa where they became the prominent part of the Jewish communities there. As a result, to this day Jews of Middle Eastern ancestry are known as Sephardim.

But there were also Sephardic Jewish communities around Europe, such as in Holland and Italy. But the Russian Jewish community had little connection to the Jews of Spain and the Middle East. So how did Roman Abramovich connect his ancestry to Portugal?

Well, Abramovich found that he had ancestry from Portugal that moved to Germany after the expulsion. Over the years, his ancestors migrated eastward and that is how he came to be born in Russia.



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