London squatters attempted to occupy the building as an act of support for Ukrainians
The Metropolitan Police announced late on Monday that the people who had occupied a London mansion linked to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska ended their protest, and that eight people had been arrested.
“The four people protesting on the balcony of a building in Belgrave Square, W1 have come down and been arrested. A police presence will remain at the scene,” Westminster Police tweeted on Monday evening, after reporting that four more people were detained earlier for trying to breach police cordon and access the building.
Four people, inc the two detained earlier, have been arrested after attempting to gain access to the row of buildings where a protest remains ongoing in Belgrave Square, W1.
Officers remain on scene engaging with four people who remain on the balcony of a building there.
— MPS Westminster (@MPSWestminster) March 14, 2022
The group of squatters, opposing the Russian offensive in Ukraine, got into the property around 1 AM on Monday morning. They told journalists they were doing the government’s work and reclaiming the “ridiculous” and “filthy fancy” mansion for Ukrainian refugees, while hanging banners with threats and insults towards Russian officials from the balcony.
“We’re demanding this property belong to Ukrainian refugees,” one of the protesters told journalists while on the balcony.
The police cordoned the area and attempted to remove the protesters, who called themselves ‘London Makhnovists,’ after Ukrainian anarchist Nestor Makhno, with a crane. The group initially refused negotiations but, later that evening, the squatters eventually came down to be detained.
The mansion on Belgrave Square, W1 was linked to Oleg Deripaska, founder of the aluminum company Rusal and its parent company En+ Group. He was among several Russian oligarchs sanctioned by the British government over the conflict in Ukraine despite his opposition to the offensive and calls for peace.
According to his spokeswoman, Larisa Belyaeva, the house belonged to members of the Deripaska family, who expressed concern over the incident and “the neglect of the UK justice system”.
Moscow attacked its neighbor in late February, following a seven-year standoff over Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics in Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols had been designed to regularize the status of those regions within the Ukrainian state.
Russia has now demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.