Squatters have occupied the central London mansion of a Russian billionaire sanctioned by the UK Government for his links to Vladimir Putin.
Banners on the multi-million pound property in Belgrave Square, near Knightsbridge, read: ‘This property has been liberated’, Putin go f*** yourself’ and ‘power breed parasites’.
A Ukrainian flag is also hanging from the scene, while two men have been pictured on the balcony with their fists raised.
A Metropolitan Police van is at the home, which belongs to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who has stakes in energy and metals company En+ Group.
He is one of the seven Russian oligarchs with business empires, wealth and connections that are closely associated with the Kremlin who have been sanctioned by the UK Government.
Mr Deripaska, thought to be one of Russia’s richest businessmen, has publicly called for peace after Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine last month.
The property is reportedly worth £25 million.
It comes after cabinet minister Michael Gove said he wants to ‘explore an option’ of using sanctioned individuals’ properties to house Ukrainian refugees.
Asked about reports in the Daily Mail that he would like to seize Russian oligarchs’ mansions and use them to accommodate people fleeing the war, he told the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme: ‘I want to explore an option which would allow us to use the homes and properties of sanctioned individuals – as long as they are sanctioned – for humanitarian and other purposes.’
He added: ‘There’s quite a high legal bar to cross and we’re not talking about permanent confiscation.
‘But we are saying: “you’re sanctioned, you’re supporting Putin, this home is here, you have no right to use or profit from it – and more than that, while you are not using or profiting from it, if we can use it in order to help others, let’s do that”.’
But on Monday, Sajid Javid suggested that housing Ukrainian refugees in the mansions of Russian oligarchs could face some ‘legal hurdles’.
The Health Secretary was asked on ITV’s Good Morning Britain whether the houses should be the first place considered.
He said: ‘Not the first place – I don’t think it would be practical to make them the first place – but I do know that that is something that my friend Michael Gove is looking at.
‘I think there’ll be some legal hurdles to try and do that, but it’s right that he looks broadly to see how we can house more and more Ukrainian refugees.’