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Squatters invade £50million Knightsbridge mansion of Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska

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2022 03 14
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10610307/Squatters-invade-25million-Knightsbridge-mansion-Russian-oligarch-Oleg-Deripaska.html

Riot police using cherry picker storm Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska’s £50million Knightsbridge ‘crash-pad’ after it was invaded by activists vowing to house Ukrainian refugees there

  • Activists broke into 5 Belgrave Square at midnight before hanging Ukraine flag and banner attacking Putin
  • Mansion belongs to family of Oleg Deripaska, one of seven Russian oligarchs who were sanctioned last week 
  • Industrialist was once Russia’s richest man and hosted Peter Mandelson and George Osborne on superyacht

By Rory Tingle, Home Affairs Correspondent and David Wilcock and Joe Morgan For Mailonline

Published: | Updated:

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Riot police have stormed the £50million Belgravia ‘crash pad’ of a sanctioned Russian oligarch to take it back from protesters who invaded the property to ‘house Ukrainian refugees’ and vowed to stay until Putin ends his invasion. 

At least five activists broke into 5 Belgrave Square just after midnight before hanging Ukrainian flags and a banner reading, ‘The property has been liberated’ and ‘Putin go f*** yourself’.  

The mansion belongs to the family of oil tycoon Oleg Deripaska, one of seven oligarchs who were sanctioned by the UK government last week for being ‘pro-Kremlin’ and ‘closely associated’ with Putin. 

Police officers wearing helmets and safety harnesses used a ladder and cherry picker to access the mansion’s balcony, as protesters shouted, ‘Go away you losers’ and ‘you fascist scumbags’. 

As dozens of officers waited outside the front door in riot gear, another activist shouted: ’This is going to be the hardest day of your f****** job.’

Officers then used a drill to break open the front door, as protesters shouted: ‘Criminal damage’ from the balcony above.

Deripaska has close links to the British establishment, with Peter Mandelson and George Osborne previously visiting his £80million superyacht in Corfu.

The squatters call themselves the London Mahknovists – after Nestor Makhno, who led an anarchist force that attempted to form a stateless society in Ukraine during the Russian Revolution of 1917-1923. 

Today, three men stood on the balcony above the street, playing music, waving and dancing. Talking about finding housing for refugees, one said: ‘Priti Patel, do not worry. We did your job. Refugees welcome.’  

A second man 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.’    

Deripaska, who was once Russia’s richest man, was one of seven people targeted by the Government on Thursday

Another of the squatters, who appeared to be in his early 20s, said: ‘There was no forceful entry whatsoever. We are using our human rights to protest.

‘We are here to protest the property of a Russian oligarch and a war mongerer. 

‘This government are not only acting illegally, they are acting immorally. This property belongs to Ukrainian refugees.’

His wealth is estimated to be £2.3 billion and he has a multimillion-pound property portfolio in the UK which, according to a 2007 High Court judgment, includes the house at 5 Belgrave Square. 

Records indicate it has not changed hands since and is owned by an offshore British Virgin Islands company. 

Answering reporters’ questions, another of the men said there are five of them inside the mansion but they have a ‘way bigger group coming’.

Seven oligarchs sanctioned by UK

Roman Abramovich is one of seven Russian oligarchs sanctioned by the UK Government last week. 

The Government estimates his wealth at more than £9billion and notes his stakes in steel giant Evraz, Norilsk Nickel and ownership of Chelsea FC.

‘He is one of the few oligarchs from the 1990s to maintain prominence under Putin,’ a Government spokesman said.

The other oligarchs sanctioned today are: 

  • Oleg Deripaska: Estimated wealth of £2billion and a multi-million-pound Uk property portfolio. Subject to US sanctions since 2018. Has stakes in En+ Group, a major extractives and energy company which owns UC Rusal, one of the world’s major aluminium producers.
  • Igor Sechin: Chief Executive of Rosneft, the Russian state oil company. The Government said he is ‘particularly close and influential ally of Putin’. Already sanctioned by the US and EU.
  • Andrey Kostin: Chairman of VTB bank, the second largest bank in Russia. A ‘close associate of Putin’ who has ‘long supported Kremlin objectives through VTB Bank’. Net worth of £379 million. Already sanctioned by the US and EU.
  • Alexei Miller: Chief executive of  of energy company Gazprom. Served under Putin when autocrat was mayor of St Petersburg. Already sanctioned by the US.
  • Nikolai Tokarev: President of the Russia state-owned pipeline company Transneft. Former KGB agent who served alongside Putin in East Germany. Already sanctioned by the US and EU.
  • Dmitri Lebedev: Chairman of Bank Rossiya, which is ‘widely considered to be the Kremlin’s private bank’. Sanctioned by the US in 2016.

He continued: ‘We have opened the building to house Ukrainian refugees and refugees from all nations.’

He also said the owner of the building ‘wants to destroy Ukraine 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.’

They said the UK Government have ‘failed’ to properly respond to the invasion, adding: ‘The same money that funds the Russia war machine funds the Conservative Party.’

The group also criticised the police, comparing them to those arresting protesters in Russia.

Asked how they got into the property, one joked: ‘Squatters’ magic.’

Another laughed: ‘I swear I cannot remember a thing.’

One man said that inside the mansion ‘there are a lot of rooms. There is so much stuff that a normal human being shouldn’t have.’

Asked whether they have enough food and drink, one said: ‘This bastard left the basement full of alcohol but left no food.

‘We have everything we need but we do not have food, so if anyone could provide us with food and we can lift it up with a rope, that would be really appreciated.’ 

5 Belgrave Square is considered to be London’s most expensive terraced house, and previously belonged to the society diarist Sir Henry ‘Chips’ Channon MP. 

It was also once home of Sir George Murray, the British Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, until he died there in 1846, and later housed the Institute of Directors. 

In 2008, a court case revealed the mansion was permanently staffed with a large domestic and security team despite Deripaska only staying a few days a year. 

The oligarch has addressed the war on his Twitter account, writing: ‘I remain committed to my belief that an immediate ceasefire and peace agreement as soon as humanly possible is the best and only solution to stop this madness in Ukraine.’ 

A Met spokesman 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.’ 

Oleg Deripaska has deep ties to the British establishment, and once hosted Peter Mandelson and George Osborne on his yacht in Corfu. 

As a result of the sanctions announced on Thursday, he was hit with an asset freeze and banned from any transactions with UK individuals and businesses.    

The activists broke into 5 Belgrave Square just after midnight before hanging Ukrainian flags and a banner reading, ‘The property has been liberated’ and ‘Putin go f*** yourself’

The mansion belongs to the family of Oleg Deripaska, one of seven oligarchs to be sanctioned by the UK government last week for having ‘blood on their hands’

5 Belgrave Square is considered London’s most expensive terraced house, and previously belonged to the society diarist Sir Henry ‘Chips’ Channon MP

Pro-Ukraine protesters raised their fists and chanted anti-Putin slogans during this morning’s protest in Belgravia 

Several police vehicles remained outside 5 Belgrave Square this morning, with officers saying they were ‘maintaining a presence’ at the address 

Tycoon who partied with Lord Mandelson and George Osborne after Yachtgate on £80million superyacht

David Wilcock, Whitehall Correspondent for MailOnline

Oil tycoon Oleg Deripaska, who was once Russia’s richest man, was one of seven people targeted by the Government today in a ratcheting up of action designed to put pressure on the Putin regime.

He was embroiled in a row in 2008 that was dubbed Yachtgate, after his meetings with the senior Labour and Tory figures was revealed.

Both men met Mr Deripaska on his yacht, with Mr Osborne accused of trying to solicit a donation for the Tory party – something he denies.

Lord Mandelson, who was then an EU trade commissioner, stayed on the Queen K off the Greek island. He went on to become business secretary in Gordon Brown’s government as a Labour peer.

By the time they met Deripaska had already been targeted by the United States, which cancelled his visa in 2007.

The Russian is believed to have a fortune of £3.2billion. Last year, Isle of Wight MP used Parliamentary Privilege to describe him as ‘one of President Putin’s most loyal oligarchs’.

He owns a house in London’s Belgrave Square and is a grandson by marriage to the late leader of the Soviet Union Boris Yeltsin.

He has been sanctioned by the US since 2018 over alleged links to the Russian government, including allegations of cyber-attacks and election meddling.

He called the claims ‘a lie’, adding: ‘The idea that I am some kind of ”Kremlin operative”… is clearly idiotic nonsense.’ 

The tycoon claimed there was ‘not a single fact’ to support the measures, and suggested he could challenge them in court. 

In a blistering tweet, he wrote: ‘Since there’s not a single fact in support of Boris’ cabinet’s fantasies it will be for the courts and the police to decide the future for all in this sanctions story.’ 

Deripaska was embroiled in a 2008 row dubbed Yachtgate, after his meetings with Mr Mandelson and Mr Osborne were revealed. 

Both men met the industrialist on his yacht, with Mr Osborne accused of trying to solicit a donation for the Tory party – something he denies. 

Lord Mandelson, who was then an EU trade commissioner, stayed on the Queen K off the Greek island. 

He went on to become business secretary in Gordon Brown’s government as a Labour peer.

By the time they met Deripaska had already been targeted by the United States, which cancelled his visa in 2007. 

The Russian is believed to have a fortune of £3.2billion. Last year, Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely used Parliamentary Privilege to describe him as ‘one of President Putin’s most loyal oligarchs’. 

Deripaska, who is a grandson by marriage to the late leader of the Soviet Union Boris Yeltsin, has been sanctioned by the US since 2018 over alleged links to the Russian government, including allegations of cyber-attacks and election meddling.

He called the claims ‘a lie’, adding: ‘The idea that I am some kind of ”Kremlin operative”… is clearly idiotic nonsense.’ 

In a bitter £650million legal battle at the High Court in 2012, he was alleged to have ties to brutal organised crime gangs which emerged after the collapse of Communism in the former Soviet Union.

He vehemently denied the allegations – revealed in legal papers filed as part of the case – and counter-claimed that he was the victim of an ‘old-fashioned protection racket’ run by the Mafia-style gangs.

Deripaska said he had been forced to pay more than half a billion dollars to the gangs over seven years and had feared for his safety and that of his family.

His one time business partner, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, has been hit with the same measures – as have Rosneft chief Igor Sechin and four more described as being in Putin’s ‘inner circle’. 

An activist raises his fist above a banner reading ‘Putin go f*** yourself’. Oleg Deripaska is known to have been close with the Russian autocrat 

The oligarch was embroiled in a 2008 row dubbed Yachtgate, after his meetings with Mr Mandelson and Mr Osborne were revealed

After the Corfu meeting with Deripaska was revealed, Mr Osborne admitted meeting him on four occasions over the course of a weekend in the Mediterranean in August 2008. 

He insisted they had not discussed donations, which are allowed only from UK-registered voters, but later admitted the meetings were ‘a mistake’.

Mandelson also denied any wrongdoing, telling the Guardian: ‘What is important is not where you meet somebody or how long you meet them for but what you do during the meeting.

‘In my case, I offered no favours and I received no favours, unlike George Osborne, who was holding conversations around his visits in order to obtain a financial contribution to the Conservative party.’ 

Deripaska’s yacht, ‘Queen K’, anchors in Bodrum district of Turkey’s southwestern province Mugla, Turkey

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Squatters invade £50million Knightsbridge mansion of Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska