This is a special squatting action, to which the YouTube video uploaded over the weekend aims to testify: a blue and yellow flag waves on a stately balcony, with the Atlantic Ocean in the background. The video was posted by former French yellow vest activist and blogger Pierre Haffner. According to his own statements, together with Belarusian activist Sergei Saveliev, he occupied the villa of Putin’s former son-in-law in Biarritz. They took over the building to receive Ukrainian refugees, writes Haffner on Facebook.
In the video, which is intended to serve as evidence of the action, photos and video fragments of the villa have been edited. Again and again a man, presumably Saveliev, can be seen waving a Ukrainian flag, sometimes in front of the manor house, sometimes in a bedroom, sometimes on the balcony.
It is said that the villa in which all this takes place belongs to Kirill Shamalov. The Russian oligarch is the ex-husband of Putin’s youngest daughter, Katerina Tikhonova. Opposite the independent Russian online magazine The inside Haffner explained that he found a copy of Shamalov’s passport and a translation of a utility bill from Moscow at the villa.
The Biarritz activists are not alone in their search for the oligarch’s villa. In London, several pro-Ukrainian activists have occupied property near London’s embassy district said to belong to Putin confidant Oleg Deripaska. The photos show several people on a balcony holding up banners that read, among other things, “This property has been released.”
The mayor of London calls the houses of the oligarchs “golden bricks”
Even British politicians do not seem averse to housing Ukrainian refugees on estates owned by Russian oligarchs. It is an act of “poetic justice,” London Mayor Sadiq Khan told the station. Radio Times. Anyway, most of the apartments in London are empty. The Labor politician believes that many Russian super-rich properties were bought to launder money and not to live in. These are not apartments, but “golden bricks”, according to Khan. “I think the government should confiscate them and, before selling them, they should be used to house Ukrainians.” According to a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the British government is considering such plans.
The Biarritz activists, on the other hand, had to evacuate the villa before their action could really begin. Haffner posted a selfie on his Facebook page showing him in front of a police station. He was arrested, he writes. The responsible prosecutor’s office confirmed to the SZ that three people were arrested on Monday and investigations were launched for trespassing. The activists have since been released from police custody. Because it was just an illegal entry, they wouldn’t be prosecuted anymore, just instructed.