The Ministry of the Interior is to prepare a draft bill to address the issue of the large number of citizens of the Russian Federation who own real estate in Estonia, a ministry spokesperson says. In some cases, this may lead to individuals losing their property.
A total of 41,351 properties in Estonia are owned by citizens of the Russian Federation, and around 4,500 owners are likely already to be cut off from access to their holdings due to the current visa ban.
While most holdings consist of single apartments or houses, one individual owns 24 properties, ERR reports.
Veiko Kommusaar, Deputy Secretary General at the Ministry of the Interior (pictured), told ERR that Russian citizens could potentially lose their properties in Estonia as a result of sanctions placed following the renewed phase of the Ukraine conflict, beginning February 24.
Kommusaar said: "The reason for this is the Russian government, which decided to invade Ukraine, while of course, the Russian people are suffering as a result. The question is primarily for Russia itself, as to why their people have to suffer because of what their regime is doing. Indeed, if it is not possible for a person to find ways to deal with their real estate themselves, then extreme consequences can occur."
None were yet in place, however, Kommusaar. said.
At the moment, we do not see that Estonia should take mitigating steps."
The majority of those real estate owners who are Russian citizens do have a residence permit in Estonia, ERR reports, though nearly 4,500 of the total require a visa to visit Estonia, which meaning the visa ban put in place by Estonia may lead to their properties being neglected.
Estonia has put in place a ban on entry to Schengen Visa holders whose visa was issued by Estonia, though this does not apply if another member state issued the visa.
The issue also affects the 919 Belarusian citizens who own property in Estonia.
Kommusaar called the large number of properties owned by Russian citizens a security risk for Estonia, as well.
He said: "Naturally, there are critical areas where owning real estate is a direct threat to our security. There are certainly other areas, in the form of individual apartments, where this problem is not so serious."
Sensitive areas include border zones and those near critical infrastructure objects, he added.
Estonia must as a result limit options for non-EU citizens to own real estate in Estonia, Kommusaar added.
The ministry is preparing a bill to address this, though, Kommusaar said, this is not ready yet and its precise details cannot yet be divulged.
Kommusaar gave a time-frame of months on when the draft bill's contents may be made more public.
Editor: Andrew Whyte