The Russian Duma adopted a new land code May 22 in the bill’s third and final reading. Agriculture Minister Viktor Khlystun deplored the new legislation, which bans the free sale of agricultural land, saying it would deny farmers the possibility of disposing freely of plots of land received when the state and collective farms were reorganized. At the same time, Khlystun said, Russia desperately needs new legislation to replace land laws dating from the Soviet period. Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Zaveryukha predicted that the land code would be rejected both by President Yeltsin and by the Federation Council, parliament’s upper house. Zaveryukha pointed out that the right to private ownership of land is guaranteed by the 1993 constitution, which was approved in a nationwide referendum. The problem is that the constitution does not spell out that ownership embraces the right freely to sell property. The agrarian lobby and their Communist allies argue that in the circumstances prevailing in Russia, the introduction of a free market would lead to peasants selling their small, uneconomic plots to large landowners, effectively losing their land for ever. (Interfax, May 22)
… And Approves Law on Transfer of Power.