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Last Updated: Saturday, 22 October 2005, 19:35 GMT 20:35 UK
New term for governor Abramovich
Roman Abramovich
The move is at odds with claims he would not stand again
Roman Abramovich, the billionaire owner of Chelsea football team, has been sworn in for a new five-year term as the governor of Chukotka in Russia.

The region, on the far eastern tip of Siberia, facing Alaska, has been beset by financial problems and was declared bankrupt by Russian auditors last year.

This was despite large injections of Mr Abramovich's own money into the region.

The London-based tycoon had said he would not stand again as governor, but he reversed that decision last month.

Presidential pressure?

Last year, Mr Abramovich said running the impoverished region was "too expensive, even for me". Chukotka is bigger than France but only home to 55,000 people.

Mr Abramovich has pumped vast sums into the regional capital Anadyr, building hotels, a supermarket, leisure centre and technical college.


However, last month the billionaire, who has shown unswerving loyalty to the Kremlin, changed his mind and allowed his name to be included as an election candidate.

It was Russian President Vladimir Putin himself who proposed Mr Abramovich's nomination.

Following his re-election, Mr Putin sent Mr Abramovich a telegram to congratulate him on his success, praising "his high professional qualities and competence," presidential representative in the Far East Konstantin Pulikovsky was quoted by AFP as saying.

The BBC's Moscow correspondent Jonathan Charles says some believe that another stint as governor was the price extracted by the president for allowing Mr Abramovich to sell his oil company Sibneft to a state-owned enterprise last month for $13bn (7bn).

By offloading his majority stake to Russia's state-owned gas firm Gazprom, Mr Abramovich is now worth an estimated 15.7bn.

It might also be the price for staying in favour with the Kremlin when the government has used a variety of means to strip other wealthy businessmen of their riches, our correspondent adds.

Gazprom to buy Sibneft for $13bn
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05 Jul 05 |  Business
The oil tycoon tempted by Chelsea
17 Apr 04 |  Business
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12 Mar 04 |  Business

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