Activists stormed a Russian oligarch's mansion in London and unfurled a sign saying the property had been 'liberated'

·4-min read
Squatters occupy Oleg Deripaska's mansion in London
Police officers outside a mansion said to belong to the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska in Belgravia, London, on March 14, 2022.REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
  • Squatters occupied a mansion said to belong to Oleg Deripaska and say they want to use it to house Ukrainian refugees.

  • The group hung signs saying "Putin go fuck yourself" and "This property has been liberated."

  • UK police are gathered outside the house. The activists said they were told they were going to be arrested.

Activists in London stormed a mansion said to belong to a Russian oligarch on Monday and hung a sign saying the property had been "liberated."

The group intends to "house Ukrainian refugees and refugees from all nations," one member told reporters, The Telegraph reported.

The squatters entered the mansion in Belgrave Square, a luxury residential area in central London, around 1 a.m. local time Monday, the London Metropolitan Police said. It was unclear if anyone was home at the time the activists entered the house.

The front door of the building appeared to be broken.

They unfurled two signs from the property: one said "Putin go fuck yourself," while the other said "This property has been liberated." They also danced on the house's balcony, The Telegraph reported.

According to British media, the owner of the house is Oleg Deripaska, the billionaire president of the Russian aluminum company Rusal and one of the oligarchs the UK sanctioned over Putin's invasion of Ukraine.

Records for the property were not available on HM Land Registry, which records land and property ownership in the UK.

London police officers stationed themselves outside the property on Monday morning.

Around 3 p.m. local time, Insider could see were a total of four activists and eight police officers on the balcony, and two police officers at the crane of a truck parked outside the property. It was not clear if anyone was inside.

At 4 p.m., the activists shouted to reporters that the police had told them that they would be arrested for burglary. No arrests have been made yet, and it is unclear when they could happen.

Police officers at the scene declined to comment on the claims. A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police referred Insider to the force's statement and declined to give "running commentary."

"We are being arrested for stupid reasons," one man shouted from the mansion's balcony Monday afternoon, adding that they were told they could either leave the property via the crane or from the front door. Insider has not seen any of them come down.

"It is ridiculous to say it's a burglary. Have you ever seen a burglar do this?" another said, in reference to the possible burglary charge.

A third added: "They can provide no evidence that burglary was committed."

"They gave us two choices they think are nice," he continued. "One is come down in the cherry picker and be arrested. Another is to come down the stairs and be arrested."

Insider also saw the group shouting anti-police chants.

"We will win. This is just the beginning. Fuck these fascist pigs," the squatters shouted.

"You can't hold us back. Cops in London as bad as those in Russia. They all do the oligarch's bidding," they said, without giving further specifics.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and billionare, businessman Oleg Deripaska (L) are seen visiting the RusVinyl Russian-Belgian joint polymer plant, near Nizhny Novgorod, 430 km. East of Moscow. Putin is having a one-day trip to Nizhny Novgorod region
Oleg Deripaska (left) and Russian President Vladimir Putin.Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images

According to The Telegraph, one of the activists said that the mansion's owner wanted to "destroy Ukrainian homes ... He supported the wars. This home belongs to Ukrainian refugees. There are families dying. Their land has gone. This is the least we can do."

The activists also said they used "climbing skills" and "squatters' magic" to get into the mansion, The Guardian reported.

According to The Telegraph, they belong to a group called the London Mahknovists, named for Nestor Makhno, an activist who led the charge for a stateless society in Ukraine during the Russian revolution of 1917.

They also accused the British government of not doing enough to help Ukrainian refugees fleeing the Russian assault in their country.

"[UK Home Secretary] Priti Patel, do not worry. We did your job. Refugees welcome," one of the men said, according to the Daily Mail.

Another added: "'We are planning to stay until Putin stops the war. Putin is responsible for people losing their homes and lands. Sanctions are not enough. The Government has delayed action - they are playing games."

"This government are not only acting illegally, they are acting immorally. This property belongs to Ukrainian refugees," one of the squatters said.

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