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Abramovich and six others oligarchs have UK assets frozen in £15bn sanctions push

Roman Abramovich's planned sale of Chelsea FC is affected by the sanctions

Abramovich and six others oligarchs have UK assets frozen in £15bn sanctions push

Home Office to open online applications for Ukrainian refugees

Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich and six other Russian oligarchs are to have UK assets worth £15bn frozen as Boris Johnson says there can be no "safe havens" for those backing Putin's invasion of Ukraine. 

In further news, the Home Office has announced it will allow Ukrainian refugees with passports or ID cards to apply for UK visas online from Tuesday - but those without family already here will still be excluded.

Both actions come amidst international condemnation of the bloody attack on a children's and maternity hospital in Mariupol and as images of bodies being placed into mass graves emerge. 

They also follow intense criticism of the UK Government that has seen London labelled a Russian money laundromat and over the restrictions in place for fleeing Ukrainians. 

The UK Government says the seven men are amongst Russia's "wealthiest and most influential oligarchs" with "business empires, wealth and connections" that are "closely associated with the Kremlin". 

Their assets will be frozen, a ban on entering the UK enacted and no British citizen or company will be allowed to do business with them. 

The move means Abramovich's planned sale of Chelsea has been put on hold and the club cannot sell match tickets or buy or sell players on the transfer market. Its merchandise shop must also close.  

The UK Government said a special license will be issued allowing the payment of staff and for forthcoming fixtures to be kept, with existing ticket-holders able to attend. 

Abramovich, who has a net worth of more than £9bn, has denied having close links to Putin but the government says all seven men are connected to the Kremlin. 

They include leading industrialist Oleg Deripaska, worth £2bn, and Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin. The others are VTB bank chairman Andrewy Kostin, Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller, Nikolai Tokarev, the president of the Russia state-owned pipeline company Transneft, and Dmitri Lebedev, chairman of the board of directors of Bank Rossiya. 

Johnson said there can be "no safe havens" for those supporting the attacks on Ukraine: "Today's sanctions are the latest step in the UK's unwavering support for the Ukrainian people. 

"We will be ruthless in pursuing those who enable the killing of civilians, destruction of hospitals and illegal occupation of sovereign allies." 

Labour's shadow foreign secretary David Lammy said the sanctions were the "right decision" but "too few oligarchs linked to Putin's rogue regime have so far faced sanctions from the UK Government". 

Meanwhile, Priti Patel has told MPs that the changes for Ukrainian refugees will only apply to those apply to join family members who are already in the UK. 

The online option is supposed to speed up the process, with applicants allowed to give biometric data once they have arrived in the UK to allow visa application centres to attend to those without passports. 

More than 2m people are understood to have fled Ukraine, but just 957 visas have been issued by the Home Office.  

Responding, the Scottish Refugee Council said: "People from Ukraine still need to complete a visa application process before they can travel to the UK. The fact is, there is simply no time to apply for visas when you are fleeing a war zone. 

"We don't understand why the UK Government continues to drag its feet in the midst of such urgent and obvious suffering. Ireland brought in a full visa waiver scheme days ago, and 27 EU countries have pledged to offer three years' protection to people fleeing Ukraine. 

"The UK continues to lag behind as an international outlier in its sluggish and meagre response." 

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