Russian president Boris Yeltsin yesterday signed a decree "On the Realization of Citizens’ Constitutional Land Rights." According to Ivan Starikov, deputy minister of economics who was one of the decreeÕs drafters, the purpose is to ensure that the nearly 12 million farmers who received plots of land from collective and state farms in the land reform of early 1991 can enjoy full rights to the use of their land without interference from local officials. Some local officials have been trying to make the farmers buy their land or pay rent for it, and there has until now been no free market for the sale of land. Starikov said the decree gives farmers full rights to sell their land, lease it to other farmers, or pass it on to their heirs. The only stipulation is that the land must continue to be used for agriculture. Starikov said that since there are at present no regulations on selling land, these would have to be drawn up quickly. Leader of the Agrarian Party, Mikhail Lapshin, immediately denounced the decree as Òopening the way to the criminal redistribution of land.Ó (6)
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