A Russian oligarch who is included on the EU sanctions list has lost his bid to have squatters evicted from a property he owns in central Amsterdam because his assets have been frozen.
The multi-million euro building on the Vossiusstraat, with a view over Vondelpark, was squatted in late October by a group saying they planned to live in it until the owner is allowed to do something with the property again.
‘They were building luxury apartments, which could probably accommodate four people,’ one of the squatters told the Parool. ‘That’s ridiculous. We want to live here with ten people. The city desperately needs more space for people with low incomes.’
Arkady Volozh was the chief executive of Russian search engine company Yandex and has close ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin. He stepped down from the role in June after being included on the sanctions list.
Volozh had gone to court to have the squatters evicted from the premises which are currently being renovated, a process which started in 2020. Rebuilding work is a legitimate reason in Dutch law to keep a property empty.
The court pointed out that EU law states that the assets of people on the sanctions list should be frozen, but that the rebuilding work could have led to Volozh’s assets being increased.
In addition, the court said, it appeared as if Volozh was planning to rent out the properties and this too is banned because of the sanctions.
The court also dismissed Volozh’s assertion that he planned to move to Amsterdam with his family, pointing out he currently lives outside the EU and is no longer head of Yandex, which has its official headquarters in the Dutch capital.
Volozh does, however, reportedly have a golden passport from Malta.
All forms of squatting were made illegal in the Netherlands in 2010. Squatting has long been a part of the Dutch political scene and its idealistic roots lie in combating property speculation and homelessness.
In the movement’s heyday in the 1980s, there were some 20,000 squatters in the capital.
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