Arcadi Gaydamak

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Arcadi Gaydamak
Arcadi Gaydamak P5200026.JPG
Arcadi Gaydamak, May 2008.
Born 8 April 1952 (1952-04-08) (age 66)
Moscow, USSR
Residence Canada, Russia, Israel
Citizenship  Soviet Union
Occupation businessman
Spouse(s) Irene Chirolenikova
Children Alexander, Khadija and Sonia

Arcadi Aleksandrovich Gaydamak (Hebrew: ארקדי אלכסנדרוביץ' גאידמק‬; Russian: Аркадий Александрович Гайдамак; born 8 April 1952 in Moscow, USSR) is a Russian-born businessman philanthropist and President of the Congress of Jewish Religious Communities and Organizations of Russia (KEROOR). He was awarded the Ordre National du Mérite[1][2] and the Ordre du Mérite agricole. On November 24, 2015, he started serving a prison sentence at Fresnes prison in France for not declaring income from the AngolaGate scandal.


Arcadi Gaydamak was born in 1952 in Moscow, the capital of the USSR. At the age of 20, Gaydamak was one of the first Jews to emigrate to Israel from Leonid Brezhnev's Soviet Union and receive Israeli citizenship. He lived on Kibbutz Beit HaShita, and studied Hebrew at an ulpan. He said he originally intended to serve in the Israeli Army, but ended up moving to France, where he opened a translation bureau.[3] In 1982, Gaydamak Translations opened a branch in Canada. During that period he commenced international business, in import and export. After the collapse of the USSR, he built up ties in Russia and Kazakhstan and formed various business organizations across Europe.[citation needed]

Gaydamak won two citations from the French government: Chevalier de l'Ordre National du Mérite[1][2] and the Ordre du Mérite agricole for helping to rescue two captured French pilots in the War in Bosnia in the 1990s, as well as two French intelligence officers captured by rebel factions in the Caucasus. Because these operations were secret, the citations spoke of his contribution to agriculture. Former French interior minister Charles Pasqua confirmed this, saying that then-president Jacques Chirac had personally authorized the citations.[1]

Gaydamak owns a home in Caesarea,[3] is married to Irene Tzirolnicova and is a father of three children. He speaks Russian, French and English. He also speaks Portuguese and Hebrew on a basic level.

In December 2008 it was reported that Gaydamak left Israel and moved to Moscow.[4] In February 2009 it was reported that he seeks to regain the Russian citizenship he lost when he emigrated to Israel.[5]

Gaydamack was granted honorary Angolan citizenship and holds French, Canadian and Israeli passports.

Angola affair[edit]

In October 2009, Gaydamak and French magnate Pierre Falcone were convicted by a French court of organizing arms trafficking in Angola during the civil war in 1993–1998 to the value of 790 million USD, in violation of the Lusaka Protocol. He was sentenced in absentia to six years in prison. His conviction on the arms dealing charges was overturned by the Court of Appeal in Paris on 29 April 2011, condemning him only for his 1994 tax declaration.


Arcadi Gaydamak during a press conference, February 2007

In February 2007, seeing the social evolutions problems in Israel, Gaydamak founded a party devoted to socio-economic issues, which he named Social Justice.[6] Although the organization was established as a social movement, he said it could become a political party if the circumstances warranted it. In late 2007, the party contemplated taking part in the 2008 municipal elections.[7]

Gaydamak ran for mayor of Jerusalem in November 2008, but his party won no seats on the city council. During the campaign, Gaydamak courted the East Jerusalem Palestinian vote. Gaydamak approached the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, Palestinian political figures and media, and came away with as close to an endorsement as one could hope for.[8]

Sport clubs and media ownership[edit]

In July 2005, Gaydamak became sponsor of the Hapoel Jerusalem basketball team. The following month he donated $400,000 to the Israeli Arab Bnei Sakhnin football club. On the same day Gaydamak announced the purchase of 55% of the ownership of Beitar Jerusalem, and two days later he announced the acquisition of full ownership. Gaydamak is the patron of several Jewish charities and president of the Congress of Jewish Religious Communities and Organizations of Russia (KEROOR), Russia's oldest Jewish umbrella group. In the summer of 2008, Arcadi claimed his son Alexandre was owner of Portsmouth F.C. and it was confirmed by the Premier League.[9]

In March 2006 he announced his offer to buy the French newspaper France Soir via his company Moscow News.[10] He had purchased the Russian Moskovskie Novosti newspaper in 2004, fired some senior journalists, and changed the paper's mandate to a firmly pro-government one, appointing a pro-Putin journalist as editor in chief.

In January 2006, Portsmouth Football Club were sold to his son, Arcadi Gaydamak by Milan Mandarić. Arcadi later sold the club to Ali al-Faraj in 2009.

In June 2007, Gaydamak negotiated a deal to buy the non-kosher supermarket chain Tiv Taam. According to newspaper reports, he was planning to close the stores on Shabbat and halt the sale of pork products.[11] However, a few days later the deal fell through, resulting in a lawsuit.[12]

In July 2009, Gaydamak announced his decision to give up the ownership of Beitar Jerusalem in favor of Itzik Kornfein and Guma Aguiar. Kornfein would handle buying and selling players, while Aguair would engage in financing.[13]

Philanthropy and community service[edit]

A Pashkevil appreciating Arcadi Gaydamak's contributions to Jerusalem, 2007

Gaydamak has donated to many Israeli organizations, including Magen David Adom and Hatzolah. He also donated $10 million to the Jewish Agency for Israel

During the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict Gaydamak constructed a tent-village on the beach of Nitzanim, hosting thousands of families who fled the rocket-ridden North and had no place to go. Gaydamak's contributions totaled $15 million (about $500,000 a day). In November 2006, he funded a one-week-long vacation in Eilat for hundreds of Sderot residents who have experienced rocket attacks from Gaza.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Yossi Melman (30 October 2009). "Gaydamak was once secret French agent, former minister says". Haaretz. Retrieved 2 October 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "Ordre National du Merite Décret du 13 mai 1996 portant promotion et nomination" [National Order of Merit Decree of 13 May 1996 on the promotion and appointment] (in French). Legifrance. Retrieved 2 October 2014. 
  3. ^ a b Jeremy Post (9 December 2005). "Gaydamak: Billionaire mystery man". The Jerusalem Post. Archived from the original on 3 October 2014. Retrieved 2 October 2014. 
  4. ^ Lily Galili (21 December 2008). "Where will Arcadi Gaydamak make his new home?". Haaretz. Archived from the original on 23 October 2012. Retrieved 2 October 2014. 
  5. ^ "Gaydamak asks for Russian citizenship ahead of arms-dealing verdict". Haaretz. 26 February 2009. Archived from the original on 18 November 2010. Retrieved 2 October 2014. 
  6. ^ Lily Galili (21 February 2007). "Gaydamak announces formation of 'Social Justice' movement". Haaretz. Archived from the original on 12 October 2012. Retrieved 2 October 2014. 
  7. ^ "Billionaire Gaydamak says he'll run for mayor of Jerusalem". Haaretz. 30 April 2007. Archived from the original on 13 October 2012. Retrieved 2 February 2014. 
  8. ^ Lili Galili (26 October 2008). "East Jerusalem newspaper Al Quds backs Gaydamak for mayor". Haaretz. Archived from the original on 20 October 2012. Retrieved 2 October 2014. 
  9. ^ "Premier League statement". Premier League. September 23, 2008. Archived from the original on 24 September 2008. Retrieved November 14, 2014. 
  10. ^ Pascale Santi (14 March 2006). "Arcadi Gaydamak annonce avoir racheté "France Soir"" [Arcadi Gaydamak announces having bought back France Soir]. Le Monde (in French). Retrieved 2 October 2014. 
  11. ^ Sharon Wrobel (11 June 2007). "Tiv Taam, kosher? Gaydamak says yes". The Jerusalem Post. Archived from the original on 27 March 2013. Retrieved 2 October 2014. 
  12. ^ Tani Goldstein (18 June 2007). "Gaydamak, Tiv Ta'am deal falls through". Ynetnews. Archived from the original on 3 October 2014. Retrieved 2 October 2014. 
  13. ^ Ophira Asayag (20 July 2009). ארקדי גאידמק לאיציק קורנפיין: בית"ר שלך מתנה ממני [Arcadi Gaydamak to Itzik Kornfein: Your Betar a gift from me] (in Hebrew). Archived from the original on 15 February 2012. Retrieved 2 October 2014. 
  14. ^ "Sderot residents vie for trip to Eilat". The Jerusalem Post. 16 November 2006. Archived from the original on 12 March 2014. 

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