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Billionaire Abramovich Quits As Russia Governor

Roman Abramovich

Roman Abramovich

MOSCOW -- Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, owner of Britain's Chelsea soccer club, has resigned as a regional governor in Russia, the Kremlin said on Thursday.

The Kremlin's press service said Abramovich had asked to step down as governor of the Chukotka Autonomous District, a sparsely populated Russian region near Alaska, and this had been approved by President Dmitry Medvedev.

Abramovich's spokesman confirmed the move, but declined immediate comment on the circumstances surrounding it.

Abramovich, 41, is ranked by Forbes magazine as Russia's second wealthiest businessman with a reputed wealth of $23 billion, mainly held through his private investment vehicle Millhouse Capital.

He moored his $300 million yacht in Russia's second city of St Petersburg while he attended an econonic forum there last month.

British singer Amy Winehouse last month played a Moscow concert at the opening of an art gallery to be managed by the billionaire's girlfriend.

Although his business interests include steel plants and coal mines inside Russia and the United States, he is best known in the West for his ownership of Chelsea soccer club in London.

Russian media has reported in the past that Abramovich tried repeatedly to step down as governor of Chukotka, on Russia's north Pacific coast, but that former President Vladimir Putin insisted he stay on.