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28 Jan, 2024 06:03

EU state steps closer to banning Russians from buying property

Finnish Defense Minister Antti Hakkanen has formed a working group tasked with preparing the legislation
EU state steps closer to banning Russians from buying property

Finland is preparing to completely prohibit Russian citizens from purchasing real estate in the country, Defense Minister Antti Hakkanen said in a statement published on Finland’s official government website on Friday.

The country amended its legislation on property transactions involving persons or companies outside the EU last year but now wants to further tighten controls by targeting Russians, citing “changes in the security situation.”

According to Hakkanen, the government has formed a cross-administrative working group tasked with assessing the possibility of a complete ban on real estate acquisition by Russians and preparing the final legislation.

“Russia, which is waging a war of aggression in Europe, has demonstrated its readiness to take advantage of the various soft spots it finds in Western societies. Border security, critical infrastructure, and real estate holdings must be protected in advance so that destabilization of society cannot be achieved through them,” the minister stated.

He speculated that Russia “can also try to use real estate holdings for some sort of influence campaigns.”

“It is difficult to control and assess in advance what kind of holdings can cause problems. That is why we plan to start with a complete ban, to which we can consider providing exceptions,” Hakkanen added. He also noted, however, that the legislation is a work in progress still far from being finalized.

Hakkanen said earlier that he expected the changes to cover not only the sales of property but also rentals. The working group is expected to devise the legislation by March 31, 2024. Moscow has not yet commented on this development.

Finnish authorities have blocked four property sales to Russians on security grounds so far. Three occurred in October 2023, and one more involving a “partially Russian-owned company” earlier in January. According to media reports, Helsinki has also been considering confiscating real estate already owned by Russians.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called these plans “another confirmation of the Russophobic nature of the policy of the current Finnish authorities, who disregard the rule of law.” She warned that such actions will not go unanswered.

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