Abramovich's £150m mansion 'could be used to house Ukrainian refugees'

13 March 2022, 18:11 | Updated: 13 March 2022, 18:13

Roman Abramovich's London mansion could soon house Ukrainian refugees
Roman Abramovich's London mansion could soon house Ukrainian refugees. Picture: Alamy/Getty

By Daisy Stephens

The £150m mansion belonging to Roman Abramovich could be used to house Ukrainian refugees.

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The sanctioned owner of Chelsea football club put his Kensington mansion up for sale last week.

Now, Michael Gove has suggested the property - and others like it - could be used to house Ukrainian refugees.

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Mr Gove said he wanted to "explore an option which would allow us to use the homes and properties of sanctioned individuals - as long as they are sanctioned - for humanitarian and other purposes".

"There's quite a high legal bar to cross and we're not talking about permanent confiscation," the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Secretary told the BBC.

"But we are saying: 'you're sanctioned, you're supporting Putin, this home is here, you have no right to use or profit from it - and more than that, while you are not using or profiting from it, if we can use it in order to help others, let's do that'."

The 15-bedroom house, formerly used as the Russian Embassy, is one of several owned by Mr Abramovich.

His £30m Chelsea penthouse has already been seized.

It is believed his six-storey Belgravia townhouse - bought for £28m - has also been seized.

Read more: Downing St tells Chelsea fans Abramovich sanctions are response to "brutal assault on Ukraine"

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Chelsea has been hit by a number of sanctions due to Mr Abramovich's association with President Putin.

Its shirt sponsor, telecommunications giant Three, has withdrawn from sponsoring the club, it is not allowed to sell new tickets, and it cannot sign or sell players.

Chelsea said in a statement: "By virtue of his 100 per cent ownership of Chelsea FC plc and affiliated entities, Chelsea FC would normally be subject to the same sanctions regime as Mr Abramovich. However, the UK Government has issued a general licence that permits Chelsea FC to continue certain activities.

"We will fulfil our men's and women's team fixtures [on Saturday] against Norwich and West Ham, respectively, and intend to engage in discussions with the UK Government regarding the scope of the licence. This will include seeking permission for the licence to be amended in order to allow the Club to operate as normal as possible.

"We will also be seeking guidance from the UK Government on the impact of these measures on the Chelsea Foundation and its important work in our communities."

The Government announced on Sunday that Brits offering their homes to Ukrainian refugees through a new humanitarian route will receive a "thank you" payment of £350 per month.

People sponsoring refugees will be required to commit to the scheme for a minimum of six months, but are encouraged to keep up the offer for as long as they can.

Those offering accommodation will be vetted and Ukrainian applicants will undergo security checks.

A website gathering expressions of interest is set to launch on Monday.

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Mr Gove said the UK "stands behind Ukraine in their darkest hour", and urged people to "join the national effort" to help refugees.

"The crisis in Ukraine has sent shock waves across the world as hundreds of thousands of innocent people have been forced to flee their homes, leaving everything they know and love behind," he said.

"The UK stands behind Ukraine in their darkest hour and the British public understand the need to get as many people to safety as quickly as we can.

"I urge people across the country to join the national effort and offer support to our Ukrainian friends. Together we can give a safe home to those who so desperately need it."