Roman Abramovich appears to be on a mission to get his assets out of Europe as sanctions tighten.
His superyacht Solaris, worth GBP430m, is heading south, apparently towards Turkey, after docking in Montenegro on Sunday. Previously, it had been at a repair yard in Barcelona – and had it remained there it might well have been seized by now.
Abramovich’s yacht Solaris was seen in the waters of Porto Montenegro at the weekend and seems to be heading to Turkey
Due to sanctions passed last week, any cash or property the Chelsea FC owner holds in the UK are now frozen. His shares on the London stock exchange cannot be sold and won’t pay dividends, and he can no longer benefit from the planned GBP3bn sale of the club. He is also banned from entering the UK.
Abramovich’s journey back to Russia
Abramovich’s second superyacht, Eclipse, is off the coast of Algeria. Its closest European port is Italy – where another oligarch, Andrey Melnichenko, recently had a GBP444m superyacht seized by authorities as part of EU sanctions.
On Sunday night, Abramovich made a whistle-stop trip to Israel, where he is a citizen. Israel currently has no sanctions on Russian oligarchs, and the billionaire owns property in the country.
He was photographed at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport on Monday afternoon before flying for a brief stop in Istanbul; Turkey is another possible safe destination for Russian money. From Istanbul his private Gulfstream G650ER jet – registration LX-Ray – flew to Moscow in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
Abramovich at Tel Aviv airport
Turkish businessman Muhsin Bayrak claims to have met Abramovich, last week, to discuss buying Chelsea. A spokesperson for Mr Bayrak says another meeting was planned later this week.
Despite the British government freezing GBP3.2bn of his UK assets, including the west London club, it is thought Abramovich could still play a role in the sale, but only on the basis that he does not personally profit from it.
It is not clear whether Mr Bayrak, who made his money in energy, real estate, and cryptocurrency, has the funds to make the purchase.
What is happening with the Chelsea sale?
The British government is open to a sale and wishes to minimalise impact on the club and its fans, but Chelsea is required to approach the government with a proposal before a new licence is granted. Its primary condition is that Abramovich does not financially benefit from any sale.
Abramovich can no longer benefit from the planned GBP3bn sale of Chelsea FC
Abramovich put Chelsea up for sale on 2 March, pledging to write off GBP1.5bn of debt and to divert all proceeds to a new foundation to benefit victims of the war in Ukraine.
The government sanctioned him, claiming to have proved his direct links to Mr Putin’s regime. Abramovich has always denied any association.
On Tuesday, a further 370 new sanctions were announced by the UK government – bringing the total to more than 1,000 individuals, entities and subsidiaries now under the Russia sanctions regime since the invasion of Ukraine.
Nigel Huddleston, the minister for sport, told a committee of MPs: “We are working with Chelsea and the fans that the measures we have put in place primarily impact Roman Abramovich and make sure he does not benefit, whilst making sure that where possible we can reduce the impact on the fans and make sure Chelsea can still continue.
“Can the government allow an entity to fail? Yes, it can, whether it’s sport or football or anything else, but what we want to do is make sure the impact of sanctions hits those we want.”
Looking to the future, he told the digital, culture, media and sport select committee: “We do recognise there is a need for further refinement and more robust owners’ and directors’ tests and the integrity element of that is something that is being pushed.”
In other developments:
o More than 100,000 Britons register interest to house Ukrainian refugees
o UK announces sanctions against 350 more Russian nationals and entities
o UK bans luxury goods exports to Russia and hikes import tariffs on products – including vodka
o Briton who travelled to warzone to join military fight against Russia leaves over ‘suicide mission’ fears
o Employee interrupts Russian news programme with anti-war slogan
Original Source: news.sky.com
WHO Estimates 15m People Have Died Directly or Indirectly From COVID – More Than Double Official Death Toll
The World Health Organisation estimates that 15 million people worldwide have now died of coronavirus – or as a result of its impact on health services.
WHO data shows the number of excess COVID mortalities to be somewhere between 13.3 million and 16.6 million people from 1 January 2020 to 31 December 2021. This is more than double the official death toll of around six million.
Excess mortality refers to the number of people who have died of the virus either directly or indirectly by being unable to access health services for other conditions.
The figures were compiled using country-reported data and statistical modelling, the WHO said.
There were 14.9 million excess deaths associated with COVID-19 by the end of 2021, the UN body said on Thursday.
Most excess COVID deaths (86%) happened in Asia, Europe and the Americas, according to the figures.
Middle-income countries accounted for 81% of deaths, with 28% occurring in upper-middle-income countries and 4% in low-income ones.
Some 68% of all excess deaths worldwide happened in just 10 countries.
There was a higher rate for men (57%) than there was for women (43%), with more excess deaths among the elderly than younger generations.
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WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus commented: “These sobering data not only point to the impact of the pandemic but also to the need for all countries to invest in more resilient health systems that can sustain essential health services during crises, including stronger health information systems.
“WHO is committed to working with all countries to strengthen their health information systems to generate better data for better decisions and better outcomes.”
Original Source: news.sky.com
Pope Francis Seen Using Wheelchair for the First Time for Mobility Reasons
The Pope has been pictured using a wheelchair – the first time he’s used one in public due to the knee pain that’s made it hard for him to walk and stand.
Francis, 85, was wheeled on stage and helped into a seat during an audience with a group of nuns and religious superiors from around the world at the Vatican.
He appears to be having a flare-up of sciatica, a nerve condition he suffers with that he’s called his “troublesome guest”.
The Pope has had to cancel or cut short activities several times in the last month because of pain in his right knee.
He was pictured in a wheelchair last July after major intestinal surgery, but this is believed to be the first time he’s used one in public due to his mobility problems.
Before Thursday’s event, he was able to walk the roughly 10 metres or so from the side entrance of the stage to his seat with some help.
He recently received some injections to try to relieve the pain but has continued to struggle.
His impaired movement was apparent over Easter when he attended but did not take charge of masses at St Peter’s Basilica, instead delegating a cardinal or archbishop to preside.
During a trip to Malta in April he was also pictured using an elevator platform to get on and off the plane.
Original Article: news.sky.com
Woman Pulled Alive From Rubble Six Days After Building Collapsed
A woman has been found alive in the rubble of a building that partially collapsed almost six days earlier, Chinese state media has said.
The unidentified woman has become the 10th survivor and was rescued shortly after midnight today, about 132 hours after the rear of the six-storey building suddenly caved in, the official Xinhua News Agency has reported.
The woman was conscious and told rescuers how to pull her out without causing further injury, Xinhua added.
Teams had used dogs and hand tools as well as drones and electronic life detectors in the search.
All the survivors were reportedly in good condition after being treated in a hospital and it is thought intermittent rain showers over the last few days may have helped their chances of survival without food or water.
At least nine people have been arrested in relation to the collapse of what Xinhua has described as a “self-built building”.
This includes its owner, on suspicion of ignoring building codes or committing other violations.
Three people in charge of design and construction were also held, along with five others who allegedly gave a false safety assessment for a guest house on the building’s fourth to sixth floors.
The building also housed residences, a cafe and shops.
An aerial photo shows the site of the collapsed residential building in Changsha, central China’s Hunan Province
There has been increase in the number of collapses of self-built buildings in recent years.
Last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for additional checks to uncover structural weaknesses.
Following the building collapse at the weekend, he urged for more victims to be found in the rubble “at all costs”.
Poor adherence to safety standards, including the illegal addition of extra floors and failure to use reinforcing iron bars, is often blamed for similar disasters.
China also suffers from decaying infrastructure such as gas pipes that has led to explosions and collapses.
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