Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 206

Briefing journalists last week, President Yeltsin’s representative in Saratov Oblast, Petr Kamshilov, gave the presidential seal of approval to the region’s pioneering land legislation. The bill, adopted in the first reading by the Oblast Duma on October 22, legalizes the free sale of agricultural land, a reform that is supported by the Russian government but strongly opposed by Russia’s Communist-dominated State Duma. (See Monitor, October 24) The Monitor’s correspondent in Saratov Oblast says Kamshilov acknowledged that, if the State Duma eventually adopts a Land Code outlawing the sale of land, Saratov’s law will have to be brought into line with federal law. But Kamshilov said this would not apply retrospectively to those who had already managed to buy or sell land under Saratov’s law, and therefore no-one should be deterred from taking advantage of the present opportunity.

Kamshilov’s approval bears out the view that the Yeltsin leadership and the president personally are strongly committed to land reform. Yeltsin, who appears increasingly preoccupied with the verdict of history on his leadership, reportedly sees land reform as a vital component of his legacy. The ability to buy and sell land is also seen by the government as crucial to attracting foreign investment. The issue will come up at the national level at the first roundtable conference which is to be held in the Kremlin on November 22. Yeltsin himself will be in the chair and is expected to do his utmost to persuade opponents of land reform to come round to his way of thinking.

Grozny Contemplates Turning Its Sector of Pipeline Over to International Consortium.