Belgravia protesters arrested for breaking into oligarch’s £50million mansion could face up to YEAR in jail
Activists from the London Mahknovists group gained entry to 5 Belgravia Square, said to be owned by Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, in the early hours of Monday, March 14.
The four protesters who occupied a central London property linked to a sanctioned Russian oligarch have been arrested, and could face up to a YEAR in jail.
The activists broke into the property, said to be owned by aluminium magnate Oleg Deripaska, early on Monday morning, and said they wanted to use the seven-bedroom home to house refugees from Ukraine.
The London Mahknovists group - named after a Ukrainian revolutionary - were involved in a stand-off with police for much of the day, with riot police cutting open a hole in the door to break in.
A crowd grew to support the activists, and four people - not the original protesters - were arrested on suspicion of trespassing on the premises of foreign missions, with at least one person carried to a police van by cops.
Later in the evening, the four members of the group came down from the balcony of 5 Belgrave Square, and were arrested were on suspicion of squatting in a residential building.
If convicted, they could face up to almost a year in prison or a fine of up to £10,000 - or both.
In a statement, the group said: “By occupying this mansion, we want to show solidarity with the people of Ukraine, but also the people of Russia who never agreed to this madness.
“You occupy Ukraine, we occupy you.”
They added: “This house could house 200 people. We have been doing a job the government should do. We have liberated the property for refugees.”
The industrialist Deripaska is said to have close ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin and was sanctioned by the UK government just days ago.
A spokesperson for the billionaire, who has hosted George Osbourne on his super-yacht, said the home belonged to family member, not him, Sky News reported.
The broadcaster also said the family said they were “appalled at the negligence of Britain’s justice system”.
But according to a 2007 High Court judgement the property is owned by Deripaska, while records show it has not changed hands since, Sky said.
Police arrived at the house shortly after 1am and remained in the square throughout the day.
The protest was inspired by Ukrainian revolutionary leader Nestor Makhno.
Squatters hung banners declaring: “This property has been liberated” and “Putin, go f*** yourself” from the seven-bedroom mansion, reportedly worth £50m.
Riot police cut the property’s door open and stormed the building in the afternoon, while negotiators attempted to persuade the activists down from the balcony ledge.
Supporters and media gathered at the cordon in support of the men.
At around 6pm, scuffles broke out between officers and onlookers, after four people were understood to have tried to lock on to the Romanian Embassy.
Four arrests were made, on suspicion of trespassing on the premises of foreign missions, with at least one person carried to a police van by cops.
Shortly afterwards, the four men agreed to come down from the balcony and were arrested on suspicion of the offence of squatting in a residential building.
Last night, a Met Police spokesperson said: “Four protestors who gained entry to the balcony of a building in Belgrave Square have come down and been arrested.
“The four have been arrested under section 144 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012.”
The offence carries a maximum punishment of a prison sentence of up to 51 weeks or a fine of up to £10,00, or both.
They added: “During the evening, four people were arrested after they attempted to gain access to the row of buildings where the protest was ongoing in Belgrave Square.
“They have been arrested under section 9 of the Criminal Law Act 1977.”
As of the morning of Tuesday, March 15, all those arrested remain in custody.
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