(Bloomberg) — A London mansion owned by family members of Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska has been occupied by protesters who oppose the invasion of Ukraine, leading to a clash with police.
The group entered the house in Belgrave Square, one of the city’s most affluent neighborhoods, at 1 a.m., according to a member of the group, who declined to be named. Nearly 20 police officers in riot gear broke down the front door shortly before 12:30 pm local time. In 10 minutes they had gained access, although the occupants are still inside.
A Ukrainian flag and banners hung from the windows of the house, including one that read “This property has been liberated.” The protesters say they were inspired by Nestor Makhno, who led a Ukrainian anarchist army in 1917.
The occupants had planned to stay on the property until the war ends and the refugees who left Ukraine have been housed, the protester said earlier. An earlier attempt by police to gain access through a neighbor’s balcony failed after occupants kicked a ladder out of the building.
Cabinet member Michael Gove, whose mandate includes the areas of housing and communities, floated the idea of using the houses of sanctioned Russians to house Ukrainian refugees. Deripaska was sanctioned by the UK last week after the country suffered from restrictions on high-profile Russians.
A spokesman for Deripaska, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment, told The Guardian newspaper that the property belongs to members of the billionaire’s family. Deripaska, founder of aluminum giant United Co. Rusal International PJSC, called for peace talks on Telegram without mentioning Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The police mobilize to clear the mansion occupied by a Russian billionaire (1)
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