Exclusive: A Russian oligarch finally makes it — as a postage stamp.28 April 2022
Roman Abramovich has been lavishly praised as a peacemaker between Ukraine and Russia — on a set of postage stamps from Madagascar.
When Russian president Vladimir Putin launched his “special military operation” against Ukraine in late February and early March 2022, the British government was issuing orders to strip Abramovich of access to his billions. The ex-Chelsea Football Club boss and Russian oligarch tried to act as a go-between, flying to Istanbul in his private jet. His mission failed.
The postage stamps have also gone on sale worldwide on eBay, fetching about ten pounds for a set of six.
The Universal Postal Union, which represents most of the world’s government post offices, has not listed the Abramovich stamps as official. A spokesperson said it will wait to see if Madagascar asks for that stamp to be listed.
“It’s clear someone is either trying to make some money with this bizarre collectors item — or else the man whose face appears has sponsored it,” said a stamp collector who declined to be named but who is also a lawyer.
Abramovich’s office could not be reached for comment.
Madagascar, with a population of 28 million people, is an idyllic Indian Ocean island state off the east coast of Africa. It’s famous, according to Lonely Planet, for its lemurs, baobab trees, rainforest, desert, hiking and diving.
Like several small countries it makes money by taking a cut of stamp sales worldwide. Agents print and produce them, and pay the Post Office a slice of all sales, choosing subjects that would interest collectors or promote the country or its sponsors. Madagascar then has to make sure that enough of the stamps get posted from its shores to count as an official postage stamp.
“Usually they would choose subjects like animals or trees or penguins, rather than a particular individual,” said the collector. “So it would seem this is a PR stunt to promote Abramovich as a person making peace on the world stage rather than as a Putin crony.”