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Squatters occupy Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska’s London mansion | London

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Squatters have occupied a mansion belonging to the Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska in central London.

The five squatters in the building in Belgrave Square – two from eastern Europe, though not from Ukraine – say they feel their countries are also under threat from Vladimir Putin. Their plan is to open up the mansion, which they say “has too many rooms to count” including a cinema and a wine cellar, to Ukrainians fleeing the war, along with other refugees needing shelter.

In a message to Russian oligarchs, the squatters said: “You occupy Ukraine, we occupy you.”

A significant police presence barred entry to the cream-coloured stone building with a black front door and pillars at the entrance. Officers were later seen using a drill to break through the front door and entering the building. The squatters shouted: “Criminal damage” from the balcony above.

This part of London has been nicknamed “oligarchs’ quarter” because so many wealthy Russians have bought properties here, a stone’s throw from Buckingham Palace.

Deripaska is an aluminium magnate. He has called on Putin to make peace with Ukraine. He was among seven Russian oligarchs put under UK government sanctuions last week.

Police at the scene in Belgravia. Photograph: Graeme Robertson/The Guardian

The squatters also criticised UK banks and parts of the establishment that they say have allowed oligarchs to launder their billions in London.

They declined to say how they got into Deripaska’s property shortly after 1am on Monday but said “it required climbing skills” and “squatters’ magic”.

“This is not ordinary squatting, this is property liberation,” one of the squatters said.

In a statement sent to the Guardian, the squatters said the invasion of Ukraine was the latest in a long line of human rights abuses by Putin’s government, including the bombing of Syria and mistreatment of LGBT people.

“This mansion will serve as a centre for refugee support for Ukrainians and people of all nations and ethnicities.”

The squatters said they were invoking the spirit of Nestor Makhno, a Ukrainian anarchist revolutionary. They said they would not leave the property willingly and planned to barricade themselves in if police or bailiffs try to remove them.

A spokesperson for the Metropolitan police said: “Police were called shortly after 01:00hrs on Monday 14 March to a residential property in Belgrave Square, SW1. Officers attended and found that a number of people had gained entry and hung banners from upstairs windows. Officers remain at the location.”

This is not the first time squatters have occupied an oligarch’s London mansion. In 2017, a group occupied the mansion of Andrey Goncharenko in nearby Eaton Square, which they said they wanted to open as a homeless shelter.


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