March 25, 2023


Portugal has changed a law that grants citizenship to descendants of Sephardic Jews and that allowed Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich to obtain Portuguese nationality.

However, the change will not be retroactive, so it will not impact the citizenship of long-time Chelsea Football Club owner Abramovich, one of the Russian oligarchs sanctioned by the EU and the U.K. after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Abramovich was given Portuguese citizenship in April last year under a law that offered naturalization to descendants of Sephardic Jews who were expelled from Portugal about 500 years ago during the inquisition.

The government has now approved a new decree meaning that people applying must prove effective connection to Portugal, newspaper Publico reported Wednesday, such as the inheritance of a property in Portugal or regular visits to the country. It is not clear yet when the changes will kick in.

Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva told reporters that Portugal would implement EU sanctions against Abramovich, but could not ban him from entering the country as he is a citizen.

A rabbi who helped the Russian billionaire obtain his Portuguese citizenship has been forbidden to leave the country and is being investigated.


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