Shy orphan who rose to join Russia’s super-rich

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Roman Abramovich has risen from a childhood as an orphan in a windswept town on the fringes of the Arctic to become the billionaire owner of Chelsea Football Club.

When he was barely a year old his mother, Irina, died of blood poisoning after a botched illegal abortion. Two years later his father, Arkady, was crushed to death when a crane collapsed on him.

He was taken in by his Aunt Lyudmila and Uncle Leib who lived in Ukhta, an ugly oil settlement just south of the Arctic Circle. In summer the town is infested with mosquitos, in winter temperatures fall to below -30 degrees celsius. There he grew up with his two cousins, Natalya and Ida, sharing a three-room flat.