French police have arrested two activists who occupied a luxury villa in Biarritz, southern France, which they say is linked to the former son-in-law of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Vladimir Osechkin, a Russian human rights activist in Biarritz, said henchmen Pierre Haffner and Sergei Saveliev, a political refugee in Belarussia, on Sunday, with the intention of providing an eight-bedroom mansion to work in. shelter for Ukrainian refugees.
“While the authorities of the US, UK and France find ways to fight Russia economically, we are taking our own actions,” Saveliev said in a video recorded on the campus filled with water. The villa’s palm includes a stagnant swimming pool.
Osechkin said two activists targeted the villa because of its links to Kirill Shamalov, Putin’s former son-in-law and vice president of petrochemicals company Sibur.
A representative for Sibur did not respond to an email request for comment.
Shamalov is not on a list of wealthy Russian business figures and other members of the country’s elite sanctioned by the EU for the Moscow invasion. Ukraine, according to the EU Sanctions Map. Shamalov was punished by the British.
Osechkin is president of the “New Organization of Dissent”, which campaigns against human rights abuses in the countries of the former Soviet Union, and works closely with Haffner and Saveliev.
In a second video purportedly captured inside the mansion, Saveliev wanders through the dimly lit rooms of the property and opens a window to overlook the Atlantic coast.
According to Osechkin, two arrested activists said they found utility and council tax bills sent to the company SCI Atlantic and Tatiana Shamalov. SCI Atlantic is a real estate company whose French company records show Shamalov as a director.
Haffner posted a photo of himself outside the police station on Facebook on Monday saying he had been arrested.
His lawyer, Kamalia Mekhtieva, said she was unable to speak to Haffner. She said her client has been charged with trespassing on private property. Local police were not available for comment.
Osechkin said the compound can comfortably accommodate more than a dozen refugees. “They called me to help…, to buy things at IKEA, beds and sheets. But their project ended because the police arrested them.”
In London on Monday, police carried out evictions of people who had occupied a mansion suspected of belonging to Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, who was placed on a UK sanctions list last week.
https://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/activists-arrested-in-france-for-occupying-villa-linked-to-vladimir-putins-former-son-in-law-41446412.html Activists arrested in France for occupying villa ‘linked to Vladimir Putin’s ex-son-in-law’