HELSINKI (AP) — Finland’s president said Thursday he wants to make it harder for Russians to use real estate in the Nordic nation — typically apartments or summer cottages — as justification for obtaining visas. of travel.
“Getting a visa for a country is not a subjective right for anyone, but the visa issuer always has discretion,” President Sauli Niinisto told reporters in Helsinki. “Until now, owning a property or an apartment in Finland was seen as a factor justifying a visa application. I don’t think that’s necessary.
Regional newspaper Etela-Saimaa reported in August that Russian citizens have been buying property in Finland at an increased rate this year despite the war in Ukraine and Western economic sanctions against Russia.
Since September 1, Finland has reduced the number of visas – including for tourist purposes – issued to Russian citizens to a tenth of the usual number, a move seen as a show of solidarity with Ukraine.
Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto recently told state broadcaster YLE that due to the new limit, Russian landlords have started dividing ownership of their Finnish real estate among several people so that a more of them are eligible for visas.
Etela-Saimaa reported that the majority of Finnish property sales to Russian buyers in August were in the South Karelia region, a scenic lake region close to the Russian border.
Citizens of countries outside the European Union must apply for permits from the Finnish Ministry of Defense to buy property in Finland, which shares a 1,340 kilometer (830 mile) border with Russia – the longest of any country EU members.
Finland’s security police have warned for several years that Russian real estate deals in Finland could involve properties of military interest to Moscow.
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