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14th Mar 2022

Activists storm home of Russian oligarch in west London

Ava Evans

‘You Occupy Ukraine, We Occupy You’

A group of anti-fascists have occupied a Russian oligarch’s mansion in west London’s Belgrave Square. 

The vacant property was originally purchased for family members of Oleg Deripaska, the Russian oligarch who was sanctioned by the UK government last week. 

On Monday, an unknown number of “No Fixed Abode Anti-Fascists” (NFAAF) stormed the building, saying they will remain there until Vladimir Putin stops his war in Ukraine. The activists said they are showing solidarity both for the people of Ukraine and the citizens of Russia, who they say did not agree to military action.

Their occupation comes after Mayor of London Sadiq Khan told PoliticsJOE that homes in the capital owned by oligarchs should be used to house Ukrainian refugees. 

“Many people are using London as a place to launder their money,” he said. 

“We could be using these homes that are left empty, rather than them being homes for people who need them, they’re gold bricks.”

Khan said there should be a register of all “properties owned by those from overseas, and a seizing of assets of all those close to Putin”.

NFAAF occupiers say the building has no electricity, no hot water, and no heating – signs it has been empty for a considerable amount of time. 

The leafy, Belgrave Square, is one of London’s most exclusive addresses. Tucked between grand embassies and overlooking a private garden, properties here fetch between three to five million pounds. 

In recent decades, London has become the preferred choice for oligarchs with the capital described as a “laundromat” by critics, who say assets like property have helped Russians siphon money out of the country. 

Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary has called for an urgent crackdown on the practice. 

Yvette Cooper said: “for too long the City of London and the UK economy has been used as a laundromat by corrupt elites linked to organised crime. 

“It is inexplicable that the Government still isn’t ready to introduce the urgently needed reforms to Companies House which Labour has been calling for and which the Government promised several years ago.”

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