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Russia Suspected Of Buying Land In Nordic Country To House Soldiers

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Jacob Bojesson Foreign Correspondent

Finnish security services believe Russia may be purchasing large areas of land in Finland to accommodate troops during a future “crisis situation.”

Supo, the Finnish security and intelligence agency, is investigating a number suspicious land acquisitions that don’t appear to be business related. Authorities are reviewing several transactions near areas sensitive to national security — such as major road networks, power stations and military posts — Finnish media reports.

A recent Supo report warned that foreign landowners have the power to shut down road access on their land and house soldiers on it.

“Measures which may be linked to preparations for gaining influence in a crisis situation are being constantly investigated [by Supo],” the report said, according to The Independent. “This could be the case with land transactions which do not appear to be business-related or in line with the logical value of real estate.”

There is no limit on how much land foreigners can own in Finland. Legislators would have to rewrite the law to give the state the right to first refusal to prevent foreign ownership. The revision would allow the state to buy up land ahead of investors whenever it’s considered critical from a security standpoint.

“Of course a buyer could hide behind different company structures so that no one would know the true buyer,” Justice Ministry Legislative Director Antti Leinonen told state broadcaster YLE.  “There is a danger that real estate deals would be subject to additional red tape without ever finding out who the true buyers are.”

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