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Sanctioned Russian Billionaire Fridman Returns to Moscow, Intends to Move to Israel – Reports

Billionaire Mikhail Fridman. Kirill Zykov / Moskva News Agency

Updated to add details from the Financial Times' report.

Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman has left Britain and intends to move to Israel, the RBC news website reported Monday, citing an unidentified source familiar with the matter.

Alfa Group, the investment conglomerate which Fridman co-founded, confirmed this information to RBC.

"The businessman is currently in Moscow and now plans to visit Russia regularly," Alfa Group’s press service said, according to RBC.

The Moscow Times has sent a request for comment to Fridman’s press office.

The Financial Times reported that Fridman had left Britain for Israel last month, but left Israel for Moscow over the weekend as Hamas militants launched an unprecedented attack on the country from the Palestinian exclave of Gaza.

Fridman, 57, was born in Soviet Ukraine and holds Israeli citizenship in addition to his Russian citizenship.

He had been living in his multi-million-pound London mansion when Britain placed him on its sanctions list — which included an asset freeze and entry ban — on March 15, 2022, days after Russia invaded Ukraine. 

Fridman, who was also hit by European Union and U.S. sanctions, has argued that the financial penalties against him were disproportionate and that billionaires such as himself have little influence on the Kremlin's thinking.

“If the people who are in charge in the EU believe that because of sanctions, I could approach Mr. Putin and tell him to stop the war, and it will work, then I’m afraid we’re all in big trouble. That means those who are making this decision understand nothing about how Russia works,” he told Bloomberg in March 2022.

The businessman has since attempted to appeal to the European Union to lift the sanctions against him.

In March, it was revealed that several prominent Russian opposition activists had signed a letter to the European Commission at Fridman's request asking for the sanctions against him and his partners to be lifted. This led to a rift in Russia's already fragmented political opposition.

The U.S.-funded media outlets Current Time and Radio Svoboda Ukraine reported that Fridman-linked companies supplied equipment and uniforms to the Russian army and insured the property of the Russian National Guard.

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