PUTIN PLANS FOR LAND REFORM REFLECT STATUS QUO.
Publication: Monitor Volume: 6 Issue: 84
Land reform was one of Boris Yeltsin’s ambitions, but he did not achieve it. Russia’s Communist-dominated Duma baulked, in particular, at passing a Land Code providing private owners with the right to freely dispose of agricultural land. President-elect Vladimir Putin should not have such problems with parliament. But he, too, seems to be backing away from introducing legislation that would allow agricultural land to be bought and sold without state interference.
Visiting Orel Oblast this week, Putin said that he favored passage of “a basic law on land,” after which each region should decide for itself what degree of freedom to dispose of land individuals should enjoy.
Leaving the question up to the regions to decide would not, in fact, be much different from the situation as it is at present. In the absence of a federal law allowing citizens to exercise their constitutional right to own land, reform-oriented republics and regions have gone ahead and adopted laws of their own. First to allow agricultural land to be freely bought and sold was Saratov Oblast, followed by Samara, Tatarstan and other heavyweight regions. As Putin mentioned, however, Orel and many other regions continue to restrict land ownership rights, since land in these regions cannot be sold freely. Saying that it was important to exclude the possibility of “profiteering” in the land market, Putin seemed to be approving of the practice in such regions (Itar-Tass, April 25; Nezavisimaya gazeta, April 26). The existence of an uneven playing-field across Russia’s regions continues to impede the development of a land market. Even in those regions which have adopted facilitating legislation, confidence in the security of property rights in land is weak and a flourishing land market has not developed. This in turn has delayed the development of lending with land as collateral, impeded the accumulation of wealth inside Russia and encouraged the general tendency toward capital flight.
RUSSIA TOUGHENS STANDARDS FOR ADOPTION OF CHILDREN BY FOREIGNERS.