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A String of Russian Real Estate Purchases Puts Helsinki On the Defensive

Helsinki, 2008. Jean-Pierre Dalbéra / Flickr

In early June, Finns learned that a civilian had put in a bid for a property near a Finnish Defense Force test-shooting range in the town of Taipalsaari, located some 20 kilometers from the Russian border. At first, nothing seemed unusual about this; civilians often live near military shooting ranges. But there was one detail that triggered concern in the Finnish military and government: the prospective buyer was Russian.

Helsinki, Finland. Timo Newton-Syms / Flickr
Plenty of ordinary Russians do, of course, buy summer homes in Finland. But some of these properties don’t resemble holiday retreats: they’re decaying cottages or empty plots of land coincidentally located near strategic military areas such as ammunitions depots, radar stations, and key electricity supply lines. According to statistics collected by the Finnish market research company TAK, in 2013, Russian buyers with an address in Russia, as opposed to in Finland, made up 89 percent of all purchases in the border region

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