Expat oligarchs in London risk being targeted after Skripal attack

Published:  30 Mar at 6 PM
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For decades, London has been the refuge of choice for Russian oligarchs and their less than monstrously wealthy expat counterparts.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, extraordinarily financially secure Russian citizens have used London as a safe refuge both for themselves and their money, with the diaspora hotting up over the past decade to include even middle-class Russians. Their 21st century lifestyle in the British capital bears no resemblance to that of the small, longstanding Russian community originally based around Knightsbridge and established by refugees from Stalinist Russia during the early years of the 20th century.

Nowadays, the Russian émigré community enjoys an explosion of cultural events including theatre events and balls, with niche stores and restaurants adding to London’s appeal. Britain’s Golden Visa scheme awarding residency to those able to invest some £2 million in property or business has proved popular, especially with those who have assets to protect. Even Russian nationals who’ve upset the Russian authorities are safe in the UK, as all who’ve applied have been granted political asylum.

However, now that Russian President Putin’s long, vindictive arm has been accused of reaching as far as peaceful Salisbury, Theresa May’s somewhat shorter arm may be used to investigate Russian expats’ financial affairs as a payback. According to Moscow-based social think tank boss Alexey Firsof, rumours of money-laundering checks on property purchases by Russian immigrants are causing .psychological tension in London’s ultra-wealthy Russian expat community. He believes expats have no connection to the Skripal affair, but thinks they may become bargaining chips.

According to political advocacy group co-founder Roman Borisovich, should wealthy Russian expatriates be targeted, they’ll have only themselves to blame. His ClampK.org group claims oligarchs and their entourages, in contrast to the original Russian immigrants, have no wish to integrate, assimilate or even mix with Britons, and have antagonised locals by purchasing trophy properties and leaving them permanently empty. As a result, local Britons have no need for the interlopers as they’re no-one’s friends and don’t contribute to the community. Should political moves get rid of them, it’ll be self-inflicted, no-one will shed a tear and the Russian government will be overjoyed.
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