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8 Apr, 2008 22:20

Government vows to stop Moscow land grab

The Russian government is to fight last month’s sell-off of prime Moscow land for a fraction of its value. A Forestry Ministry auction last month sold off 47 areas of prime Moscow woodland for as little as $3 a square metre. They’re now being sold for 556

Aleksandr Shokhin, the President of the Employers’ Union RUIE, is the biggest name caught in the scandal.

“I paid 700 rubles ($US 30) for the so-called sotka on the border with my dacha to prevent deforestation. I will explain my decision in the court,” Shokhin said.

Shokhin made the revelation just minutes after the Natural Resources Ministry announced it would fight the sales in court.

Shokhin’s land is on the Western Rublevka Road, where President Putin often stops traffic to get to his own residence.

“The prices on Rublevskaya are probably the highest in the world – in one location going up to $330,000 per hundred square metres. We've calculated that it's more expensive than in Сap Ferrat,” Ekaterina Thain, a partner in Knight Frank Russia said.

Construction is supposed to be banned in the woodland. But analysts warn Russian legislation is so vague anything from health spas to amusement parks and even houses could legally spring up in its place.