School 'reviewing' sports pavilion named after sanctioned Russian billionaire

Old red brick building with turret on top of pitched roof, taken in winter

UCS Hampstead - Credit: Nigel Cox via Geograph

A Hampstead private school is 'reviewing' the name of its sports pavilion after a Russian billionaire was sanctioned by the UK government in response to the invasion of Ukraine.

University College School (UCS) named its new sports pavilion The Kantor Centre after the businessman and philanthropist Viatcheslav (Moshe) Kantor.

Dr Kantor donated to UCS through his charitable foundation. The Kantor Centre officially opened at the school's playing fields in West Hampstead in autumn 2019.

On Wednesday (April 6) the government announced Dr Kantor has been added to the sanctioned list.

He is the largest shareholder of the Russian fertiliser company Acron, which, according to the government, has vital strategic significance for the Russian government.

A spokesperson for UCS said: "We condemn the invasion of Ukraine and the appalling suffering of its people.

"In light of the recent sanctions imposed on Dr Kantor, we are carefully reviewing our position in relation to the naming of our sports pavilion."

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One UCS parent said: "I feel somewhat uncomfortable watching my son play on fields which have been built with funds that effectively trace back to Mr Putin."

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said on Wednesday: "Today, we are stepping up our campaign to bring Putin’s appalling war to an end with some of our toughest sanctions yet.

"Our latest wave of measures will bring an end to the UK’s imports of Russian energy and sanction yet more individuals and businesses, decimating Putin’s war machine.

"Together with our allies, we are showing the Russian elite that they cannot wash their hands of the atrocities committed on Putin’s orders. We will not rest until Ukraine prevails."

According to The Guardian, in 2017, Putin bestowed Mr Kantor with the Order of Honour “in recognition of his professional achievements and longstanding fair work”.

The government has already imposed sanctions on Russian oligarchs including Mikhail Fridman, owner of Athlone House in Highgate, and Alisher Usmanov, the former Arsenal major shareholder who owns Highgate's Beechwood House.