The Met Cracks Down On Squatters In Oligarch's Mansion – And Everyone Made The Same Point

"The Met's unwavering commitment to appalling optics is almost starting to seem deliberate."
A large group of police officers in riot gear arrived to remove squatters from a property reported to belong to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska on Monday.
A large group of police officers in riot gear arrived to remove squatters from a property reported to belong to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska on Monday.
Chris J Ratcliffe via Getty Images

The Met’s heavy-handed response to the squatters who have seized the mansion of Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska has not exactly impressed the general public.

On Monday, activists – who declared themselves “anarchists” – took hold of Deripaska’s £25 million mansion in Belgravia, London.

The “London Makhnovists” campaigners said this was an act of protest against the Russian billionaire who was sanctioned by the UK last week over his links to the Kremlin. In a statement, they declared: “You occupy Ukraine, we occupy you.”

They also draped banners over the building claiming it had now been “liberated”, and urged Russian president Vladimir Putin to “go fuck yourself”.

To the surprise of everyone on social media, the Met Police were very quick to respond to the squatters, even though they were protesting peacefully from within the property.

At least eight police vehicles were on the scene at noon and the road was cordoned off.

it wasn’t long until riot police appeared as well, and used a drill to remove the front door of the property – according to reports, no-one was inside the building when it was searched by the police, as the four activists had moved onto the balcony.

Officers said they would continue engaging with the squatters, and “balance the need for enforcement with the safety of all involved”.

One activist said to the waiting press: “We’re demanding this property belong to Ukrainian refugees. Their houses have been destroyed and this guy [Deripaska] supported the war. He knew the war was coming but he said nothing. His silence is violence.”

Deputy prime minister Dominic Raab has previously expressed his support for using the seized properties from Russian oligarchs to house Ukrainian refugees, but it’s believed new legislation would be required.

In response to the squatters, the prime minister’s official spokesman said: “Squatting in residential buildings is illegal.

“But we are working to identify the appropriate use for seized properties while owners are subject to sanctions.”

The decision to bring in riot police for four activists failed to win around Twitter though. Here are some of the most scathing responses:

This backlash follows a particularly tumultuous year for the Met. The force has received intense scrutiny over its handling of various cases, including the deaths of Sabina Nessa and Sarah Everard.

Metropolitan Police commissioner Dame Cressida Dick was forced out following a row with the London mayor Sadiq Khan over how she managed the culture of misogyny, racism, homophobia and harassment a watchdog claimed was in the force.

The Met also faced backlash over its delayed response to partygate, when Downing Street was found to have hosted parties in breach of Covid rules throughout national lockdowns.


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