A group of squatters living in an Amsterdam mansion owned by a prominent Russian tech entrepreneur subject to EU sanctions is allowed to stay. an Amsterdam court ruled that there was no legitimate reason to leave the building vacant.
The owner of the house is Arkady Volozh, the founder of Yandex, a tech behemoth that dominated search and driving all over Russia. Mr. Volozh was the company’s CEO, but he and his deputy stepped aside after the European Union imposed sanctions on both of them, accusing them of complicity in Kremlin disinformation.
Mr Volozh has an EU passport from Malta, but he is not allowed to enter the bloc due to the sanctions, nor is he allowed to sell or rent the house or make a profit from it, the court ruling said last week.
Squatters moved into the house late last month, which is located on an expensive street in the southern part of the Dutch capital and overlooks the city’s largest green area, the Vondelpark. The average asking price for a home on the street is about $1.6 million, according to one Dutch real estate website tracking the value of homes.
One of the reasons Mr Volozh had wanted the squatters out of the building was that he and his family would occasionally stay there, the ruling said. Renovations to the home, which began in 2019, were also in the final stages, it noted.
Given the EU sanctions and because he was no longer the top executive of Yandex, which has an office in Amsterdam, the court ruled that he had no reason to visit the city.
Although burglary and squatting are punishable under Dutch law, “this is not ‘ordinary’ vacancy”, according to the court’s ruling.
Mr. Volozh intends to appeal against his lawyer’s decision said in a statement to The Guardian.
The squatters are protesting both against the war in Ukraine and against housing policy in Amsterdam. “The squatters think it is unfair that millionaires can use Dutch houses to make a profit,” says their lawyer the Amsterdam newspaper Het Parool. Banners hung on the house read in English: ‘Against war and capitalism’.