Court rules squatters do not have to leave Russian oligarch’s Amsterdam home
The group of activists who have been squatting in an Amsterdam home that belongs to a Russian billionaire do not have to leave, a judge decided on Wednesday. In a preliminary hearing on a case brought by Arkady Volozh's company, the court refused to order the activists out of the property on Vossiusstraat where they have been for about two weeks.
The Russian oligarch, who founded the Russian search engine Yandex, is on the European Union's sanctions list in place due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. As a result, his credits and assets in the EU have been frozen.
The squatters believe he was planning to rent out the building along the Vondelpark in order to turn a profit. For example, they said he was renovating the property, and extra street addresses have been added to the home.
The judge saw no immediate reason to order the evacuation of the building, because there is no legitimate reason for it to remain vacant. A renovation is indeed a legitimate reason, but that is not allowed due to the EU sanctions. One reason is that the renovation would lead to "a significant increase in value and, as a result, capital growth," according to the ruling
Also, a renovation on behalf of someone on the EU sanctions list is only allowed if the Ministry of Finance granted an exemption, but that "has not been proven," according to the judge. The judge therefore ruled that the "claim for the eviction of squatters has been rejected now that an unjustifiable vacancy is looming."
The lawyer from Arkady's company indicated during the summary proceedings that the house is intended for personal use. He wants like to stay there with his family from time to time "to enjoy the beautiful city of Amsterdam." However, the court did not consider this plausible, partly because it is not possible to easily travel to the Netherlands due to the sanctions.
Reporting by ANP