Why is this Russian oligarch different from all other Russian oligarchs?
Because, as the JC can exclusively reveal, Roman Abramovich will spend the entire Passover week in Israel.
The Chelsea owner will fly to Eilat in his personal jet next Wednesday where he is booked into the presidential suite at the Isrotel Royal Beach.
Mr Abramovich is plainly expecting friends. Eytan Loewenstein, spokesman for the Isrotel chain, said: “Mr Abramovich has booked a total of 36 rooms for Passover week including 16 suites.
“His only special requests so far have been a hall for a private Seder and some large TV screens to watch live coverage of Chelsea’s Champions League match against Liverpool. As the game is on the same night, we are not sure how this will work, whether he will want the screens in the same room as the Seder, or in another room.”
The first leg of the Champions League quarter final at Anfield kicks off about two hours after sunset in Israel so Mr Abramovich will have time to break matzah and participate in a quick Seder before kick-off.
Mr Loewenstein said that he had no idea about the identity of any of the Russian billionaire’s guests, although when Mr Abramovich was in Tel Aviv for a week last year, he was accompanied the entire time by his girlfriend Daria Zhukova.
Estimates are that Mr Abramovich’s entire Red Sea vacation will cost him $500,000.
A special event for him and his friends is being laid on at the Timna Valley Park, north of Eilat, where King Solomon’s Mines are located.
On previous visits to Israel, one of Mr Abramovich’s yachts has been berthed at Herzliya Marina and it is assumed that with his known love of marine sports, he will have a yacht on hand in Eilat to explore the Red Sea corals.
In 2007 Mr Abramovich announced his intention to buy an Israeli home and make investments in the country. He had a $30 million bid for a property in Tel Aviv’s Neve Tzedek neighbourhood rejected. Since then negotiations have broken down, presumably because of the credit crunch.
The annual football tournament for leading Russian and Ukrainian teams, which is held in Israel each winter and is funded by Mr Abramovich to the tune of about $8 million, was cancelled this year due to the economic crisis.