Russians Remain Biggest Real Estate Buyers in Montenegro | Balkan Insight

Central Bank report for 2019 says that of a total of 170 million euros spent by foreign nationals on the property in the country, Russians spent 39 million euros.

Girl looking at her mobile phone in front of a boat carrying the flag of Russia in Kotor, Montenegro. Photo:EPA-EFE/KOCA SULEJMANOVIC

Despite its often icy political relations with Moscow, Russians remain the biggest real estate customers in the tiny Adriatic country according to a Montenegrin Central Bank report for 2019.

It said that of the 170 million euros foreigners spent on real estate in Montenegro that year, Russian buyers spent 39 million – almost a quarter.

“Russians are the biggest buyers of real estate in Montenegro and maintained that image during 2019 as well. Citizens of the Russian Federation traded real estate for almost 39 million euros last year, which is at the same level as the year before,” the bank report said cited by local Dnevne novine newspaper.

“After Russians, Serbian citizens spent 16.6 million euros on real estate in Montenegro, while Turks spent 1.7 million,” the same report added.

Montenegrin ties to Russia date back to the reign of Tsar Peter the Great who agreed to take the small Orthodox principality under Russia’s protective wing.

The warmth cooled rapidly in 2014 after Montenegro emphatically backed US and EU sanctions on Moscow for its perceived intervention in Ukraine and for its annexation of the Crimea.

Ties deteriorated further after Montenegro accused Russia of sponsoring a coup attempt in 2016 allegedly aimed at overthrowing the pro-Western government and stopping the country from joining NATO. It joined the alliance in June 2017.

None of these spats have deterred Russians from investing and living in the country.

According to the Russian embassy in Podgorica, between 5,000 and 7,000 Russians are permanent residents in Montenegro. Most of them live in the coastal towns of Budva and Bar.

For years, Montenegro has been labelled the “Russian VIP resort” – the preferred destination of Russian oligarchs. According to some surveys, more than 40 per cent of real estate in Montenegro belongs to Russians, including some former politicians and billionaires.

At one point, the number of Russian buyers in Montenegro was so large that it earned the Adriatic republic the title of “Moscow-on-sea”.