The lower house of the Russian parliament, the State Duma, on September 24 overrode a presidential veto of a controversial Land Code that outlaws the free sale of arable land. The Duma needed 300 votes to override the veto. In the event, voting was 304 in favor to 52 against with five abstentions. (Itar-Tass, September 25)
President Yeltsin’s representative to the Duma, Aleksandr Kotenkov, said the land code was unconstitutional since it would permit the sale only of small plots of land owned by city dwellers and would not permit a free market in arable land. Kotenkov predicted, however, that the president will veto the code on the ground that voting was fraudulent, with many deputies casting votes for absent colleagues. He claimed, for example, that votes were cast in the names of 15 deputies who were away at a Council of Europe meeting in Strasbourg. (Russian Television, September 25) Earlier this year, Yeltsin vetoed a controversial bill on trophy art for the same reason.
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