Activists have broken into the five-story Amsterdam home of sanctioned Russian technology tycoon Arkady Volozh and say they plan to use it as a temporary shelter for students and other young individuals.
Two new squats in Amsterdam in a week and a half: Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 302 and Vossiusstraat 16.
Volozh is a co-founder and former CEO of Yandex, a Moscow-based Internet giant that is sometimes referred to as the Google of Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s wide-ranging crackdown on freedom and dissent over the past two decades has swept up the nation’s Internet companies, including Yandex. Russia pressured the company to hide stories critical of the Kremlin on its popular landing page and cooperate with the nation’s security services (FSB).
The activists hung signs from the windows of Volozh’s $3.5 million home criticizing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Yandex’s ties to the FSB, and capitalism.
The European Union has placed Volozh on its sanction list and froze his assets inside the bloc after Putin launched his February invasion of Ukraine.
The activists claimed they would allow young people to reside in the building until Volozh was removed from the sanctions list. It was not immediately clear if the Amsterdam police would intervene to protect the property.
Volozh is the latest prominent Russian whose property in Europe has been occupied. Protesters broke into the London home of billionaire Oleg Deripaska as well as a French home believed to belong to one of Putin’s daughters.
Italian media in April reported that unknown activists vandalized two villas in Italy that belong to leading pro-Kremlin propagandist Vladimir Solovyov. Unknown individuals threw red paint into the swimming pool at Solovyov’s villa in Pianello del Lario near Lake Como.
Russian billionaire’s house taken over by squatters
The group is protesting the Yandex founder’s wealth as well as the conflict in Ukraine
A view of a squatted building belonging to Arkady Volozh in Amsterdam, Netherlands, October 31, 2022 © squat.net
Squatters have occupied the Amsterdam property of Arkady Volozh, the billionaire founder of Russian search engine Yandex. The group’s members say they took over the sanctioned Russian’s building to protest the conflict in Ukraine, as well as the activities of capitalist “parasites.”
Volozh is sanctioned by the EU and as such is currently prohibited from selling or maintaining the building, NRC reported on Monday. With the property held in limbo, squatters moved in on Thursday, and banners reading “against war and capitalism” now hang from the facade of the building, located on a residential street in the affluent southern part of the city.
The Dutch news site noted that the police have visited the squatters, but the outcome of the visit is unclear. It is also unclear how many people are staying in the building, or how they gained access.
In a statement, the squatters said that they were “against the war, against the greed of oligarchs and billionaires and against parasites that empire creates.” Their sit-in was staged “in support of Ukrainian and Russian anarchists who are fighting against their state,” the group added.
Volozh resigned as Yandex’ CEO earlier this summer after his name appeared on the EU’s sanctions blacklist. The company, however, has continued to flourish, and announced the recruitment of some 2,000 new employees in July. Later that month it announced plans to sell weather forecasting technology to companies in Mexico and Brazil.
Yandex is Russia’s largest technology company and is used for around 60% of searches in Russia. Its holding company, Yandex NV, is registered in Amsterdam.