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Judge says squatters can stay in Russian oligarch’s Amsterdam mansion

by News Desk
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A group of young people who have taken over a Russian oligarch’s empty house in Amsterdam can, at least for now, stay where they are.

A Dutch judge has ruled in favor of seven squatters living in billionaire Arkady Volozh’s luxurious 1879 five-story house in Amsterdam’s city centre. .

“They were very happy that I won their case, so they plan to move out as long as possible,” said Heleen over de Linden, the squatter’s attorney. as it happens Host Nil Koksal.

“Then they sent me a bouquet of flowers. They said they were planning to live there as long as possible after the hearing.”

According to De Linden, Dutch law usually favors homeowners in such cases. However, Voroš is under severe sanctions in the European Union and his house is considered a frozen asset.

protest the war and find a place to live

Squatters are largely silent, refusing to be interviewed or named by the media. They reportedly hung banners in their homes with anti-capitalist and anti-war slogans.

one of them, When a Guardian reporter approached me outside my housesmoking a cigarette and smiling, said, “The law is finally on our side.”

Vorosz’s Amsterdam home in Google Street View in 2018. (Google Street View)

De Linden explains that the people who live in the house are seasoned squatters between the ages of 25 and 30.

“They are against Russian aggression against Ukraine and they want it. [Russian President Vladimir] Putin leaves power. And they are against all the oligarchs who support the Putin regime,” she said.

“The second reason they occupied land is that there is a huge shortage of living space in Holland.

Who is Arkady Volozh?

De Linden says the lawsuit hinges on sanctions against homeowners.

Volozh has been under EU sanctions since June for helping Russia invade Ukraine while he was CEO of Yandex, Russia’s largest search engine.

Yandex news aggregators have censored articles critical of Russia and promoted articles aligned with party lines, according to critics from the EU and Russian opposition.

Volozh called the decision “misguided” and resigned to protect the company from sanctions.

Outside you can see about eight people walking in the same direction. At the forefront are his two men in suits, gesticulating and talking to each other.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) chats with Vorosh during a visit to Yandex headquarters in Moscow in 2017. (Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik/Kremlin/Reuters)

According to the GuardianVolosh’s lawyer argued in court that the millionaire’s home was exempt from sanctions, as EU law allows individuals under sanctions to use their property for “personal consumption”. .

Volozh said he is renovating a house with the intention of moving in with his family while working in the Netherlands. Yandex’s European headquarters are in Amsterdam.

“Their main residence is in a different location. However, since Mr. Voroš’s activities are in Europe, they visit Amsterdam regularly. They see Amsterdam as a beautiful city.” Attorney John Wolfes reportedly said in court.

However, a judge ultimately ruled that Vorosh was unlikely to move home due to the travel restrictions imposed on him by the EU and the fact that he no longer worked for Yandex.

as it happens Wolfs did not respond to a deadline for comment.

De Linden says it’s hard to believe he intended to move.

“It’s a nice mansion, nice house, but it’s not for oligarchs because oligarchs usually live in palaces and there’s a lot of security around them, lots of cars and personal belongings. “Because there is,” she said.

The Guardian estimates the house’s value at £3 million (4.67 million Cdn). One of his squatters told Dutch media that he has nine baths and saunas on each floor. According to Business Insider.

uncertain future

As for squatters, it is not clear how long they can stay. Volozh is appealing this judgment. And the house remains under construction, which is the only reason the water, electricity, and gas are all working.

De Linden says the squatters plan to stay as long as possible, but whatever happens will be fine.

“They are very experienced squatters, so they have a plan B,” De Linden said. “So they’ll find something.”

She says the court ruling could even set off a trend as squatters turn to other vacant homes linked to oligarchs.

If that happens, she thinks it might win the support of the masses.

“I’ve also noticed that people are really happy that this is happening and everyone is saying this is a good thing because they have to fight the oligarchs,” she said. Normally people are very much against squatters, but now they are supporting them in this procedure against the oligarchs.”

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