Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 92

Meanwhile, Ayatskov faces more immediate problems at home. The Monitor’s correspondent in the region reports that Saratov Oblast’s groundbreaking land law is being challenged by the Russian prosecutor general. On May 14, a Saratov oblast court is due to begin hearings into the complaint by the prosecutor general that certain articles of the law do not accord with federal legislation. The prosecutor general is suing Governor Ayatskov, who signed the oblast bill into law, and demanding that he declare the law inoperative. Our correspondent says that no details are yet available as to the specific nature of the prosecutor general’s challenge.

Saratov led the way in legalizing the free sale of land, enacting an oblast law last November and since then blazing the trail with a series of highly publicized land auctions. Saratov’s example was quickly followed by Samara and Tatarstan, which have adopted laws of their own. The regions were forced to adopt their own legislation because of the stalemate between President Boris Yeltsin, who favors liberalization, and Russia’s communist-dominated State Duma, which is determined to block it.

Our correspondent predicts that the Saratov hearings will reverberate around the country since they will have direct implications for other regions that have adopted or are planning to adopt laws liberalizing land ownership.