‘PM, stop Agriculture Academy’s land transfer to developers!’ - United Russia

View of testing and selection fields of the Michurinsky Garden of the Russian State Agrarian University - Moscow Timiryazev Agricultural Academy. © Grigoriy Sisoev
Russian parliamentary majority party United Russia has asked its leader, PM Dmitry Medvedev, to block a plan to erect residential buildings on plots of land in Moscow that are used for research by the Timiryazev Agriculture Academy.

We are concerned about the situation unfolding around the Timiryazev Academy. The decision to exchange part of its experimental land plots for monetary support has caused disagreement among the academy’s students and professors,” the secretary of United Russia’s General Council, Sergey Neverov, said during the party’s educational forum.

Bearing in mind the increased public interest to the issue we, together with the head of our representation in the State Duma, Vladimir Vasiliyev, addressed the chairman of the government and chairman of our party with a request to suspend the development of these land plots.”

Neverov added that apparently the issue has not been coordinated with the Agriculture Ministry and the people who work at the academy, and that this lack of foresight had triggered social tensions.

The secretary suggested holding additional discussions among experts and the general public in order to estimate the possible effect of the planned construction of residential blocks on research land plots on both the academy and the adjacent districts of Moscow.

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Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev told reporters on Monday that he considered it appropriate to hold additional discussions to find an equally acceptable decision for the academy and the Moscow City authorities. Medvedev added that the process would be coordinated by the Agriculture Ministry and the Agency for Mortgage and Housing Credit – the government-owned organization working on improving the living conditions of Russian citizens as well as on lowering the risks in the construction and mortgage sectors.

United Russia decided to intervene after Russian mass media has reported that the government planned to transfer about 101 hectares (about 250 acres) of experimental land plots in Moscow from the Timiryazev Agriculture Academy to the Federal Fund for Housing Development. The plan was that the latter organization would develop the land, put apartment blocks on it, sell the apartments and use the money for further development of the academy.

According to Russian mass media the staff and students of the academy disagreed with the plan, saying that the land plots were necessary for studies and besides were among few calm and green places in the huge, bustling city of Moscow.

As the situation developed, 10 former Russian agriculture ministers signed an address to President Vladimir Putin asking him to block the plan for the commercial development of experimental land plots, saying that implementing the plan would inflict irreparable damage to the academy and to the Russian agricultural industry as a whole.

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Founded in 1865, Russia’s Timiryazev State Agrarian Academy (also called University) is the major educational and research center for agriculture specialists in the country. About 18,000 students currently attend the academy.