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Law Hiding Russian Real Estate Ownership Data Comes Into Force

Newly built luxury apartment complexes in St. Petersburg. Alexander Demyanchuk / TASS

New legislation preventing the general public from accessing entries to Russia’s real estate register came into force on Wednesday, independent Russian-language news website Meduza reported.

The move, which restricts information on the register to “competent state agencies” is expected to act as a massive hindrance to Russian investigative journalists, who have used the register on multiple occasions as a basis for unraveling the complex ownership structures and holding companies used by Russia's elites to hide their wealth. 

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) initially proposed limiting access to the data on the real estate register in 2015, only to have anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny challenge the legality of the action in the courts.

Two years later, the country’s Supreme Court ruled that the registry ​​was fully within its rights to restrict access to property ownership data.

An investigation by Navalny into the ownership of a vast Black Sea palace in early 2021 concluded that the property was indirectly owned by President Vladimir Putin and helped fuel nationwide anti-corruption protests.

Navalny’s team later said it had used data from the real estate register in the investigation, which has now been viewed over 126 million times on YouTube.

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