Jewish tycoons step down from philanthropy group over Russia sanctions

i24NEWS - AFP

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Chairman of the Genesis Award Mikhail Fridman speaks during the award ceremony at the Jerusalem Theater, in Israel on June 18, 2015.
Marc Israel Sellem/POOL/Flash90Chairman of the Genesis Award Mikhail Fridman speaks during the award ceremony at the Jerusalem Theater, in Israel on June 18, 2015.

Genesis Philanthropy Group funds causes in Israel

Three Jewish oligarchs with suspected ties to Russia's president have resigned from a major philanthropy group that funds causes in Israel as they face sanctions tied to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Mikhail Fridman, Petr Aven and German Khan will relinquish their roles at Genesis Philanthropy Group, the organization said on Saturday.

"In order to assure the ability of GPG to stay true to its mission and build on the foundation we have created over the past 15 years, all three have resigned from the board of directors," the group's chairman of the board Gennady Gazin and CEO Marina Yudborovsky said. 

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Genesis is registered in the United Kingdom but is a major funder of causes in Israel including the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.

The three men were slapped with international sanctions over suspected ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

Genesis, which says it "seeks to strengthen Jewish identity among Russian-speaking Jews worldwide", has pledged $10 million to help Jews "impacted by the crisis in Ukraine."

Ukrainian-born Gazin, who is not targeted by the sanctions, said in the note which was first reported on Friday that he would stay on and that the resignations would not impact Genesis's commitments.

Moscow's invasion of Ukraine has put a new spotlight on wealthy Jewish Russians in Israel said to be connected with Putin. 

The Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial suspended ties with billionaire Roman Abramovich this month, just weeks after announcing a historic partnership that museum officials said made him their second-largest donor.

Abramovich, who holds Israeli citizenship, was photographed in Israel's Tel Aviv airport on Monday.

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