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Protesters occupy Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska's London mansion

The Ukrainian flag and a banner saying "this property has been liberated" were seen hanging from the property in Belgravia.

Protesters occupied Oleg Deripaska's £50m mansion. Image: Greg Barradale

Protesters occupied the central London property of Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, draping a Ukranian flag and a banner saying “Putin go fuck yourself” from its balconies.

A heavy police presence gathered outside the property, 5 Belgrave Square, with six police vans and two cordons on the street.

Speaking from the house’s balcony, the occupiers said they had been let in by the ghost of a Ukrainian anarchist. Unofficially, they added, an open window may have aided their late-night entry.

Deripaska, once Russia’s richest man, is one of seven oligarchs targeted in sanctions announced by the UK government on Thursday.

The squatters – calling themselves the London Makhnovists in honour of Ukrainian anarchist Nestor Makhno – told The Big Issue they entered the property at 1am on Monday.

Upon entry, they found it “deserted”, with no food in the fridges, and the heating and hot water turned off.

“We think there’s a lot of space here to house refugees,” they said. “We aren’t here to live we are here to protest and open up the space for refugees. They did not buy this house as a home they bought it a as a property investment.”

They added that the only way they will leave the property is with a “High Court order”.

Police have cordoned off the area outside the property. Image: Greg Barradale

One person attempted to throw a Sainsbury’s carrier bag full of food up to the balcony of the property, where the protesters are stationed. It wasn’t the best throw, however, and the bag landed on top of a police van, angering officers who had set up a cordon outside.

“It is not a crime to be bad at throwing food, right?” one asked.

The house is the former home of Conservative politician and diarist Henry “Chips” Channon.

A poster released by the protesters called on people to “squat oligarchs’ properties everywhere”, and declared to oligarchs: “You occupy Ukraine, we occupy you.”

Deripaska is estimated to be worth £2bn and owns a stake in En+ Group, a parent company of UC Rusal, a major aluminium producer.

Under the newly-announced sanctions, Deripaska – along with Roman Abramovich and a handful of other oligarchs – is banned from entering or leaving the UK and from doing business in the UK.

As the occupation went on, the police presence increased, with a large number of riot police entering the building through the front door.

The Met said officers searched the building, and found no protesters inside – with only those on the balcony present.

A JCB arrived for police to negotiate with the occupiers, who remained on the balcony.

The occupation ended just before 8pm, with police arresting four people inside the building.

Another four, who tried to climb the back of the building, were also arrested at around 6pm.

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