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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Abramovich Tapped for a 2nd Term

APRoman Abramovich
President Vladimir Putin's envoy to the Far East said Wednesday that he would recommend that the president appoint Roman Abramovich to a second term as Chukotka governor.

The surprise announcement came after Abramovich -- the oil billionaire who owns the Chelsea soccer team and spends most of his time in London -- made it clear last year that he had no interest in a second term.

Presidential envoy Konstantin Pulikovsky praised Abramovich's management skills and said he ran Chukotka better than most other governors in the Far East ran their regions.

"With the right given to me by the president to submit candidacies for regional leaders in the Far East Federal District, I have no reason not to put forward Roman Arkadyevich for another term," Pulikovsky said at a news conference, Interfax reported.

He did not say whom else he might also nominate as governor.

Officials at the Chukotka representative office in Moscow declined to comment Wednesday. Representatives of Abramovich could not be reached for comment.

Vladimir Pribylovsky, a political analyst with the Panorama think tank, said he was taken aback by Pulikovsky's announcement and speculated that the Kremlin had pushed Abramovich to stay. "It looks like the Kremlin found a way to convince him to stay. It's hard to say whether they begged or intimidated him," he said.

Abramovich surprised many when he decided to run in 2000 for governor in Chukota, an impoverished Arctic region of 50,000 people. The living standards of the population have improved under his patronage. Abramovich has spent millions of dollars of his own money to build schools, hospitals and apartment buildings and to send schoolchildren to the Black Sea for summer vacations.

Since becoming governor, Abramovich has enjoyed friendly relations with the Kremlin and managed to avoid the troubles that other oligarchs have faced. Just last month, he reportedly managed to negotiate a two-thirds cut to a $1 billion back tax claim for 2000 and 2001 for his Sibneft oil company, paying $300 million instead.

Pulikovsky said, however, that he was not recommending Abramovich for a new term because he was loyal to the Kremlin. "The time has come for not only loyal people, but for those who can manage and solve serious executive and economic issues," he said.

Putin effectively appoints governors under a Kremlin-drafted law that scrapped direct gubernatorial elections. The law came into force at the start of the year.