Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman quit the UK and moved to Israel a week before Hamas militants began their attack on the country, prompting him to flee to Moscow.
(Bloomberg) — Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman quit the UK and moved to Israel a week before Hamas militants began their attack on the country, prompting him to flee to Moscow.
“A week ago I moved to Israel,” Fridman said Monday by phone to Bloomberg. “Now I’ve flown to Moscow because of the current situation. When everything settles down, I plan to return to Israel and live there permanently.”
Fridman, who holds Israeli and Russian citizenship, is the founder and main shareholder of Alfa Group, which includes Russia’s largest private bank. The tycoon moved to London in 2013 after he and his partners sold their stake in TNK-BP to Russian state-controlled oil giant Rosneft, pocketing $14 billion.
The European Union and the UK imposed sanctions on Fridman and his partners soon after Russia invaded Ukraine in February, 2022. The US sanctioned him in August, while he was living in London.
“It is impossible to live in the UK under sanctions,” he said, explaining the decision to move to Israel.
Fridman has returned to Russia even as the Kremlin has criticized tycoons who chose to live abroad during President Vladimir Putin’s confrontation with the US and its allies over the war in Ukraine. Russian businessmen who moved their assets and families abroad must understand they’ll remain “second-class strangers” even if they become “earls, peers and mayors” in their adopted countries, Putin told lawmakers in February.
The Hamas attack on Israel that began Saturday has killed more than 900 Israelis, mostly civilians. Some 500 Palestinians have been killed in retaliatory attacks, Palestinian authorities said. Israel’s army has begun military operations against Hamas in Gaza after the government declared it was at war with the militant organization.
(Added Palestinian death toll in last paragraph)
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