To use proceeds of the £2.5 billion sale of the Chelsea FC to help Ukrainian victims: open letter to UK PM

The Ukrainian Bar Association has joined 57 other Ukrainian and international organizations and individuals in signing an open letter to Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, urging him to fulfill the UK Government’s promise and facilitate channeling proceeds of the £2.5 billion sale of the Chelsea FC or a significant percentage of these funds to help victims of the full-scale war in Ukraine.

The UK human rights organization REDRESS, which authored the letter, reminded that in March 2022, Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich announced his willingness to sell Chelsea FC and use the proceeds “for the benefit of all victims of the war in Ukraine”. Shortly after, he became subject to UK sanctions for his close connections with Putin’s regime. The sale required a licence granted by the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation, which was issued in May 2022, that allowed for the creation of a foundation with “exclusively humanitarian purposes supporting all victims of the conflict in Ukraine, and its consequences”.

Two years later, the process remains at a stalemate, with neither the UK Foreign Office nor those tasked with creating the foundation taking decisive action to progress the matter. The reasons for this impasse include a bureaucratic hurdle and a dispute between the Government and the foundation over whether the funds are to be directed exclusively to Ukraine or Ukrainian victims, or for broader purposes, according to REDRESS.

The NGO emphasizes that the proceeds of the sale of the Chelsea FC could have a profound impact on victims of the war in Ukraine, as they constitute nearly seven times the value of the £365 million in humanitarian assistance provided by the UK to Ukraine so far. The total cost of reconstruction and recovery in Ukraine has been estimated at US $411 billion and close to 10 million people are internally displaced or living as refugees abroad, REDRESS reminds.

"The signatories request that all or a significant percentage of the funds are used to uphold the right to reparation to victims, given that widespread human rights violations and over 125,000 war crimes [in Ukraine], such as conflict-related sexual violence and torture, have been reported and that it is estimated that 14 million Ukrainians need psychological aid," REDRESS notes.

The full letter and a list of signatories can be found via this link.

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