Chelsea wants to kick the oligarchs out of their homes

At the entrance to Thornwood Gardens, a new residence in the heart of Kensington and Chelsea, the most chic borough of London, activists from the brand new association Kensington Against Dirty Money (KADM) have installed a machine on the sidewalk washing, drum wide open, vomiting fake banknotes.

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The symbol is transparent: here, we wash dirty money. “In this residence there are three properties belonging to the family of the President of Azerbaijan [Ilham Aliev], their value is around £40 million [47,5 millions d’euros] while his chairman salary is £175,000 a year,” said Joe Powell, co-founder of the association, during an improvised press conference on March 11.

Twenty years of inaction

Since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Johnson government has decided to put an end to these twenty years of inaction during which the British capital has welcomed the oligarchs of Russia and elsewhere with open arms, with almost no ask questions about the source of their immense fortunes, earning the nickname “Londongrad”.

As of March 10, the British authorities had frozen the assets in the United Kingdom of 18 oligarchs close to the Putin regime, including Roman Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea football club, and Oleg Deripaska, founder, among others, of Basic Element, a of the largest Russian industrial groups. The former has a splendid villa at 16 Kensington Palace Gardens and a penthouse in the Chelsea Waterfront tower – the value of the whole is valued at over £150million. The second is said to own a house at 5 Belgrave Square, just behind Buckingham Palace.

A “distorted” real estate market

The KADM association wants to seize this moment to denounce the deleterious influence that these immense fortunes have had locally, which have made their borough (“borough”) of West London one of their favorite drop-off points in Europe. “They often come in the summer, to shop at Harrods, the rest of the time, their accommodation remains empty, it’s completely immoral”, laments Monica Press, a Labor councilor from the borough and resident of the neighborhood for twenty-five years.

Enlisted in the young association, Monica Press denounces a real estate market ” fake “ by the oligarchs. Prices have soared to stratospheric levels: the four-bedroom is selling for around £10million around Holland Park. In South Kensington, the studios are close to a million pounds.

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