Squatters take over Russian billionaire's mansion

Squatters take over Russian billionaire's mansionSquatters have taken over a £15ml ($18,85ml) mansion owned by a Russian billionaire in one of Britain's most expensive and exclusive streets, The Telegraph said on Thursday.

The group has allegedly been in the Grade II listed building in Eaton Square for three days.

The property, which was built in the early 1820s, has believed to have been empty ever since Russian oligarch Andrey Goncharenko bought it in 2014.

The squatters said they plan to open up the huge Belgravia house, which used to be a Spanish school, as a homeless shelter.

The house is one of four purchased by the billionaire over a three year period, including Hanover Lodge, in exclusive Regent's Park.

It was believed that alleged computer hacker Lauri Love, who faces up to 99 years in prison if extradited to the US, was staying in the squat. However, one of the group at the house claimed he was no longer at the property and had only been visiting. Love, who has Asperger syndrome, is accused of stealing data from U.S. agencies including the FBI and NASA. He is currently preparing appeal against his extradition to the U.S. which was signed by Home Secretary Amber Rudd in November.

A doorman for a neighbouring townhouse said a notice had been tapped to the front door by a bailiff firm.

"A little later one of them came out a side window and took the notice off and went back inside," he said.

One of the squatters said: "With this building you can see it's empty and it's falling apart in places and there's dust on the windows. The reason we have done this is because it's cold and we have a lot of homeless people in the Victoria area that need shelter."

"We researched the building before we took it and saw it was owned by this Russian oligarch so we figured the damage caused to him compared to the gains for the homeless community is nothing. This is nothing to him but for these homeless people it could stop them from dying, especially with snow on the way apparently," the squatter added.
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