Russian and Ukrainian activists have taken over a vacant building in the Dutch capital of Amsterdam that purportedly belongs to the Russian government, the Dutch newspaper Het Parool reported Sunday.
Citing a member of the self-identified “group of international artists,” the publication said the four-story corner building in southern Amsterdam is believed to be “owned by Russia” and has been vacant for two years.
The squatters defended their right to occupy the building amid Russia’s war in Ukraine as well as Amsterdam’s ongoing housing crisis, Het Parool reported.
“While the war against Ukraine continues, this building remains empty,” the group was quoted as saying by the publication.
“That is unacceptable. The housing crisis has caused rents to rise to levels that make rental properties inaccessible to working people, young adults and artists.”
Het Parool did not confirm whether the building is in fact owned by the Russian government, and The Moscow Times could also not immediately verify the squatters' claims.
As of Monday morning, there was no official comment from Russia’s Embassy in The Hague.
Dutch law enforcement officials said they do not yet have plans to evict the squatters, who have been living in the building “for several days.”
“Furthermore, we’re looking at what will happen in the long term,” an anonymous official told the publication.
The report comes a year after other activists announced the take over of Russian tech tycoon Arkady Volozh’s Amsterdam mansion. A Dutch court has repeatedly struck down Volozh’s efforts to evict the squatters.
Russian-Dutch relations have worsened over the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine in 2014. They deteriorated further over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 and the tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions.
In February 2023, the Netherlands closed Russia’s trade mission in Amsterdam and expelled several Russian diplomats accused of espionage.