UK measures to retaliate against alleged Russian government-sponsored nerve agent attack on former spy Sergei Skripal have excluded any attempt to interfere with Russian-owned property, particularly in London.
Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, remain critically ill in hospital after apparently being attacked with the nerve agent in Salisbury on March 4.
No precise figure is known on the number of Russian-owned properties in London but the total is believed to be well over 1,000 - many of them are linked to the 99 Russian-owned companies that are quoted on the London Stock Exchange, and the 3,000-plus Russian students enrolled at British schools and colleges according to data from the Independent Schools Council.
In November, high-profile London estate agent Trevor Abrahmsohn - who runs Glentree Estates - wrote in a newspaper in the capital that in recent years the Russians arriving in London had been “hoovering up a plethora of prime properties with gay abandon.”
Abrahmsohn wrote that when sanctions were imposed against Russian over the Crimea crisis in the early 2010, the flow of Russian buyers was stemmed. “However, much to our delight, in the last three months we have seen them back again with new found gusto” he added.
They have been attracted not only by London’s global status and ‘safe haven’ reputation, but by the weak pound since the Brexit vote.
“They love our culture and our socially liberal, environment with a stable, political and economic backdrop and it is good to see them back again. As they say in Russian, ‘dobro pozhalovat nazad’ (welcome back)” wrote Abrahmsohn.