The Russian government has approved a draft program for the next phase of privatization. (Interfax, July 18) Russia’s privatization program came under strong criticism in the run-up to the recent elections and has been more or less frozen since Anatoly Chubais’ ouster from power at the beginning of the year. The latest draft program seems to bear the stamp of Chubais’ return to power. It calls not only for the continuation of the original privatization campaign but for its expansion to create the conditions for a real estate market. Privatization of real property is now to be given first priority. The new draft program was strongly criticized in cabinet by interior minister Anatoly Kulikov, who said privatization had already damaged the country’s defense capability by depriving Russia of some of its most important defense plants. Kulikov called for a ban on the privatization of everything connected with the development, production and testing of weapons. Meanwhile, Aleksandr Lebed was expressing his opinion about private ownership of land at a session of the upper house of the Russian parliament, the Federation Council. (Interfax, July 18) Saying that the question of land ownership had always been a crucial issue for Russia, Lebed urged caution. He suggested that the question of private ownership should be decided by holding a series of local referendums in Russia’s various regions and republics, but called on parliament to work out detailed legislation on the subject.
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