President Boris Yeltsin has signed a decree giving the owners of privatized houses the right to buy the land on which their homes are built. (Izvestia, November 28) At present, the land belongs to municipal governments. Izvestia describes the decree as a further step toward the creation of a land market in Russia and says it represents an effort by the Yeltsin leadership to move ahead on land reform in the absence of agreement between president and parliament on a land code. The Duma is determined to prevent the creation of a free market for agricultural land, while Yeltsin is equally determined to make liberalization of land ownership his legacy for posterity. Yeltsin’s latest decree has the added attraction of offering municipal governments a potentially useful source of income, which could increase their independence from the oblast-level governments on which they presently depend for most of their funding. Russia’s new law on local government financing, passed in September, similarly aims to increase the autonomy of municipal authorities vis-a-vis the oblast-level authorities.
Chechnya Trying to Reduce Its Dependence on Russia.