The Portuguese executive's statement was made by the Minister of State and Foreign Affairs, Augusto Santos Silva, when questioned by the media about the attribution of Portuguese nationality to the multi-millionaire Russian businessman Roman Abramovich, and the consequent criticism of the process and accusations against Portugal made by Russian opponent Alexei Navalny, who is currently detained in Russia.
“I read the criticism directed at Portugal, which seems to me to be a deeply unfair criticism: the idea that Portuguese officials carry suitcases of money is insulting and has no foundation. And when we make unfounded criticisms, these criticisms have no relevance,” said the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
The Russian oligarch who owns Chelsea football club was naturalised this year under the Nationality Law as a descendant of Sephardic Jews, like “thousands of people” in a similar situation, explained Santos Silva, during the press conference.
“Since 2014, with the approval of the law in the Assembly of the Republic that allows the granting of Portuguese nationality to descendants of Sephardic Jews expelled from Portugal in the 15th century, thousands of people have used this faculty that Parliament gave them to acquire Portuguese nationality”, said the head of Portuguese diplomacy.
Santos Silva guaranteed that these processes for granting nationality "follow the usual scrutiny that is under the law", that "the Ministry of Foreign Affairs does not interfere" and that "Portuguese diplomacy does not deal with matters relating to private individuals".
Público newspaper recently released criticisms made this month by Alexei Navalny, recognised as the main political opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin, of Portugal's decision to grant naturalisation to Abramovich.
“Finally he managed to find a country where he can pay some bribes and make some semi-official and official payments to end up in the European Union (EU) and NATO,” wrote Navalny on his Twitter page.