Organizations of all stripes have moved to distance themselves from Russia, after its invasion of Ukraine, launched Feb. 24. The Wilma Theater followed the trend, ending a partnership with an arts group backed by a leading Russian oligarch.

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Philly’s Wilma Theater has returned a donation from a group close to Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich

The Wilma Theater ended a partnership this month with an arts group backed by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich that was supporting the debut of a play in Philadelphia.

The break, over a local production of The Cherry Orchard, is another sign of the difficulties of being associated with Abramovich, after the United Kingdom froze his assets there in sanctions issued March 10. Officials cited Abramovich’s “close relationship” with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, who ordered the invasion of Ukraine. Canada and the European Union followed with their own economic restrictions on the businessman.

Until then, Abramovich’s money and charitable contributions had been long accepted by Western institutions. He had become a familiar name as owner of English soccer team Chelsea — one of the world’s richest clubs — and as a prolific donor to Jewish organizations and as an arts patron in Israel, Russia, and elsewhere.

Now, gifts from Abramovich and other wealthy donors perceived to be close to Putin’s regime are coming under intense scrutiny.

Read more about the Wilma Theater and Roman Abramovich here.

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