The upper house of the Russian parliament, the Federation Council, failed yesterday to muster sufficient votes to override President Boris Yeltsin’s veto on the Land Code. The code, which would have outlawed the free sale of agricultural land throughout Russia, had been approved by parliament but was vetoed by the president last summer. It would have required 120 votes yesterday to override the presidential veto. Only sixty-seven were forthcoming. Seventy voted against and fifteen abstained. (RTR, February 18)
Yesterday’s vote means that the Land Code is now dead. The roundtable that met to discuss the land issue at the beginning of the year set up a working group and instructed it to come up with compromise proposals in three months’ time. It is now likely to produce a fresh document proposal that will include a ban on foreigners’ buying land and even, perhaps, a ten-year moratorium on land sales.
Meanwhile, a number of Russian regions are filling the legal vacuum and pressing ahead with their own legislation. The legislature in Kaliningrad Oblast rejected such a bill last month, but Kurgan Oblast and the Republic of Tatarstan are preparing to follow the trail blazed by Saratov Oblast and to authorize creation of a land market from which only foreigners would be excluded. "If we delay [in adopting legislation to regularize the situation], we will leave the agricultural sector without investment, on the fringes of economic development," President Yeltsin said in his state-of-the-nation speech earlier this week. (Reuter, February 17)
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