The Finnish Embassy in Moscow is examining the significance of a decree issued by Russian President Dmitri Medvedev on Sunday restricting the ownership of land by foreigners.
A ban on the ownership of real estate by foreigners has been in force in Russia’s border areas for some time, but the scope of the border area has not been definitively established. The new decree lists 380 areas around the country.
The zone near the Finnish border extends from the Gulf of Finland to the Murmansk area. Excluded are the areas of Käkisalmi and Pitkäranta.
Finland plans to ask the Russians for clarification of the policy, and is calling for reciprocity.
“If it is possible to buy here [in Finland], then it certainly must be permissible to buy on the other side of the border”, said Minister for Foreign Affairs Alexander Stubb (Nat. Coalition Party). Marja Liivala, an official at the Finnish Embassy in Moscow, says that Finland is now examining the exact implications of the move.
There are several different expressions in Russia for fixed property. The decree speaks of plots of land.
Liivala does not know how much land is under Finnish ownership in the border areas. She notes that a key question is how the decree affects foreign investment in Russia.
“Our interpretation is that it does not apply to Russian legal persons – including foreign investments registered in Russia.”
The border zone was not clearly defined in legislation dating back to 2001. The confused situation has curbed Finnish desires to buy land on the Russian side. Finnish and Russian officials have published a set of guidelines for buying property in Russia.
The guide states that foreigners may not own property in border areas. It then goes on to give advice on how to buy property in border areas.