Lawmaker proposes ban on Turkish real estate for Russian citizens

A seagull flies over Bosphorus against the backdrop of the Ottoman-era New mosque in Istanbul January 2, 2015. © Murad Sezer
A member of St. Petersburg city legislature has prepared a bill banning Russians to own or even rent homes and apartments in Turkey under the threat of substantial fines.

Independent deputy Vladimir Petrov wants the Russian administrative code amended with an article stipulating fines of between 150,000 and 300,000 rubles ($2170 - $4340 at current rate) for purchasing or renting real estate in Turkey.

According to the existing draft, violators of the ban can be fined only after their ownership or renting rights are confirmed by a check conducted by an agency appointed by the Russian president. Such an action could be initiated after inquiries by law enforcement, state agencies and foreign banks. The checks could also be carried out following reports in mass media, but not after anonymous reports.

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The author of the draft told Izvestia daily that his primary concern was greater security for Russian citizens. “The incident with the Su-24 aircraft has demonstrated the controversial attitude of the Turkish authorities not only to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), but also to the Russian anti-terrorist operation in Syria. We cannot exclude the possibility that real estate belonging to our citizens will be confiscated and sold with the revenues going into the terrorists’ pockets,” Petrov said.

A sales manager from one of the Russian real estate agencies dealing in Turkish properties told reporters that, after the major cooling in Russia-Turkey relations, the number of property deals between Russians and Turks had dropped significantly, but such transactions were still happening.

Russia introduced restrictive measures against Turkey in late November, soon after the Turkish Air Force attacked and downed the Russian Su-24 aircraft that was taking part in the anti-terrorist operation in Syria. The restrictions include a temporary ban on imports of certain Turkish products, curtailing the Russian operations of a number of Turkish organizations, and a ban on Russian employers hiring Turkish nationals, effective from January 1, 2016.

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President Vladimir Putin also ordered the government to introduce a ban on charter flights between Russia and Turkey. Even before the official move, most Russian tour operators had stopped sending their clients to Turkey over security fears.