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29 Aug, 2022 10:53

Thousands of Russians could lose property in EU country

Russian-owned real estate may pose a threat to Estonia’s national security, an Interior Ministry official claims
Thousands of Russians could lose property in EU country

A visa ban could lead to thousands of Russians losing their property in Estonia, the deputy secretary of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Veiko Kommusaar, warned on Monday.

Tallinn has barred access to the country for Russian citizens with Schengen visas issued by Estonia from August 18, due to Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine.

The Baltic nation’s banks have stopped accepting money transfers from Russia as part of earlier EU sanctions. This has made paying utility bills increasingly complicated for Russians who own real estate in Estonia but live in their home country.

Russians who accumulate debt over unpaid utility bills due to the sanctions could eventually lose their property in Estonia, Kommusaar said in an interview with the ERR website.

“Indeed, if it becomes impossible for a person to find ways of dealing with their real estate – extreme consequence may come. We currently don’t see how Estonia can make any concessions in this area,” he said.

Around 12% of Russians (4,500 people) who own property in Estonia are under threat because of the visa ban, according to the deputy secretary.

Interior Ministry data reveals that Russians possess 41,351 properties in total in the country. But most of them will be unaffected by the entry restrictions as they have residence permits and live in Estonia.

Kommusaar also said it is dangerous for the country of 1.3 million that such a large amount of real estate is concentrated in Russian hands.

“Of course, there are those critical places where owning a property is an immediate threat to our security. There are certainly other places, in the form of single apartments, where the problem isn’t that serious.” 

The official suggested that Estonia must work to limit the possibility of non-EU citizens acquiring real estate in the country.