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15 Jan, 2008 14:14

Moscow fishy land deal legal: court

A Moscow court has declared an auction, which sold lucrative Moscow land for well below market rates, to be legal. In December, the Russian government filed a lawsuit against the auction house, accusing it of restricting entry as a way of controlling pric

A Russian newspaper linked billionaire tycoon Roman Abramovich to the auction, suggesting a company connected to him was among those purchasing the cheap rental contracts.

Abramovich refused to comment at the time.

The Russian Federal Forestry Agency says while the low prices were justified by the tough rental conditions, the investigation did bring some changes.

“The first auction was a pilot one. We look at the mistakes that we made. And now the Russian Federal Forestry Agency is planning to transfer rights to auction land lots in the Moscow region to an independent auctioneer. So, the forestry will not conduct auctions, but independent auctioneers instead. And they will be appointed on the basis of competition,” Roman Shipov from Russia's Federal Forestry Agency said.