Police expelled squatters from the palace of the Russian oligarch in London

LONDON (Reuters) – Police on Monday evacuated occupiers who had occupied a London mansion owned by the family of Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, who was placed on a British sanctions list last week in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Officers in riot gear entered the multi-million pound mansion in Belgrave Square, home to several foreign embassies located in an upscale area of ​​the British capital.

“You occupy Ukraine, we occupy you,” the squatters, who described themselves as anarchists, said in a statement. By occupying this palace, we want to show our solidarity with the people of Ukraine, but also with the people of Russia who have never approved of this madness.

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Squatters had gathered on the balcony in front of the property, where they raised the Ukrainian flag and put up a sign that read “This property is liberated.” A prolonged confrontation ended at 2000 GMT.

Police said that “the four people who protested on the balcony of a building in Belgrave Square … disembarked and arrested.” Earlier, police said they had arrested four others who tried to gain access to the property.

Britain froze the assets of Deripaska last Thursday, one of a number of Russian oligarchs targeted in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

A spokeswoman for Deripaska said the house was owned by his family and not his own. Read more

“We are appalled by the neglect of the British justice system demonstrated by Boris Johnson’s cabinet in applying sanctions and complicity with the kind of people who raid private property,” she said.

“It is really a shame that this is happening in a country that is supposed to respect private property and the rule of law.”

Deripaska, who owns stakes in energy company En + Group, which owns one of the world’s largest aluminum producers, is worth £2 billion and has a multi-million pound property portfolio in Britain, according to the British government.

2007 London High Court documents identified Deripaska as the beneficial owner of Belgrave Square Palace. A judge said in a court case the previous year that the property and another home he owned outside the capital at the time were worth about 40 million pounds ($52 million).

Britain imposed sanctions on about 20 Russian oligarchs, including Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich, and froze their properties across London and banned them from coming to Britain.

“The takeover of apartment buildings is illegal, but we are working to determine the appropriate use of the confiscated property while the owners are subject to sanctions,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman told reporters. “We certainly don’t think people should be breaking the law.”

(dollar = 0.7666 pounds)

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Additional reporting by Elizabeth Piper, Alistair Smoot and Jay Faulconbridge. Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Tim Ahmann

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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