Leftists propose free land for poor and distinguished Russians

RIA Novosti/Igor Ageyenko
MPs representing leftist opposition party Fair Russia have prepared a bill that, once passed, would allow the government to distribute free land plots to socially vulnerable citizens and those who deserve an award from the state.

The motion was presented by the head of the Fair Russia party, Sergey Mironov, and his deputy, Oleg Nilov. The MPs told Russian mass circulation daily Izvestia that their main objective was to help the repopulation of remote and abandoned villages. They also promoted it as an effective anti-crisis measure.

At the moment, people are afraid to keep their money in banks and we give them an opportunity to invest in land,” Nilov told the newspaper. “In addition, we want to create a busy middle class that would not be interested in politics.”

The bill contains a set of amendments to the Federal Law on Land that make it legally possible to hand out land plots to certain categories of Russian citizens for building private homes, farming and commercial agricultural projects. The landowners will be legally bound to use their plots for one of the specified purposes and will not be able to sell them on. The maximum size of the plots is fixed at 1 hectare (about 2.5 acres).

The candidates for receiving free plots fall into 30 different categories and most of them can be described as distinguished workers and people who have dedicated themselves to difficult and important professions. These include miners and steel foundry workers, people who have worked in Arctic territories, military and police veterans, and teachers. People with state awards and other distinguished citizens can also receive land plots under the new bill.

The program will not be applied to convicts who have not yet served their sentences, and for those who had been convicted of corruption.

Fair Russia’s idea of a “Russian Homestead Act” was not original – in mid-January the presidential envoy to the Far East Federal District, Yuri Trutnev, suggested offering large land plots for free to anyone who resettled to the Russian Far East to start a farm or other business. The plan also included the handover of one-hectare plots, a ban on selling the received land and a five-year trial period.

Trutnev has claimed that his idea received support from President Vladimir Putin, who called it right in principle and noted that similar programs had been successfully implemented in Siberia historically.