Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 47

Addressing a meeting of the leaders of the Agrarian party and the Agrarian Union in Moscow yesterday, Gennady Zyuganov pledged to oppose legislation permitting the free sale of land. (3) Zyuganov needs the support of the Agrarian party to win the presidential election; his fellow Communist Gennady Seleznev says he needs only 10 million votes more than the Communists scored in the December parliamentary elections; Agrarian party leader Mikhail Lapshin, rubbing home his advantage, says Zyuganov needs an extra 15 million. Either way, an alliance with the Agrarian party is Zyuganov’s surest hope of winning the extra votes, and the Agrarians have made no secret of their condition, that is, a ban on the free sale of agricultural land.

Lapshin said yesterday that if President Yeltsin follows through with his threat of legalizing the sale of agricultural land by means of a presidential decree, the Agrarian party will appeal to the Constitutional Court. The Russian constitution legalizes land ownership but says nothing about its sale or purchase. The Land Code was approved by the Duma in the first reading in July 1995, but the Duma subsequently refused three times to adopt it in the second reading. Yeltsin told his cabinet February 29 that he would sign a land decree within a week. Yesterday, however, Yeltsin told Duma speaker Seleznev at their regular monthly meeting that if the Duma scheduled a debate on the Land Code for April, Yeltsin would postpone signing his own decree. (4)

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