Abramovich 'to quit his role as state governor'

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Roman Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea Football Club, is reportedly planning to quit next year as a regional governor in Russia's far east.

"Abramovich is planning to initiate his resignation because he believes he has fulfilled all his tasks," the Interfax agency quoted an unnamed source in the regional administration as saying. "It's on everyone's lips in Chukotka." The source told Interfax that Mr Abramovich, Russia's richest man, could tender his resignation in December and leave his job in the new year.

Kremlin and Chukotka officials could not be contacted for comments. Mr Abramovich's spokesman said by telephone: "I have no information about this."

During Vladimir Putin's presidency, which has seen a campaign against "oligarchs" - Russia's super-rich accused by the Kremlin of neglecting national interests - Mr Abramovich has become a widely cited example of a different approach.

Last year, when a Kremlin- led campaign against the billionaire Mikhail Khodorkovsky landed him in jail for fraud and tax evasion, rumours began to circulate that Mr Abramovich was planning to quit his Chukotka job and leave Russia to base himself in London, where he owns property. But Mr Putin reappointed Mr Abramovich as governor for another five years.

"Normally, he does not have political problems," Vyacheslav Nikonov, the head of the Politika think-tank, said. "Almost certainly this is personal, there is nothing political about this."

The Russian edition of Forbes magazine has estimated Mr Abramovich's wealth - mostly oil and aluminium assets - at £9.7bn.