Communists seek to expand free land handover program from Russian Far East to Siberia

A combine harvester pouring grain into a truck during the barley harvest season in the fields of JSC "Novopetrovskoye" of the Siberian Agrarian Holding. © Alexandr Kryazhev
A Russian Communist Party MP has proposed applying the recently approved state program of free handover of land not only to the Russian Far East, but also to much larger territories in Siberia.

If the government bill on free land handover has been signed into law, we suggest that it should be expanded to the territory of Siberia already today. These two macro-regions must become pilot grounds and the collected experience could be later used on the whole territory of our country,” RIA Novosti quoted Sergey Obukhov as saying Friday.

One of the possible ways to restart the cultivation on unused lands is to give these lands top citizens who want to work in agriculture. I assure you, we will find enough of them,” he added.

According to Obukhov’s estimates, the total area of unused agricultural land in Russia currently exceeds 40 million hectares.

READ MORE: Land of plenty: Duma committee approves bill for free handover of Russian territory to foreigners

Earlier this month, President Vladimir Putin signed into law the bill introducing free handover of land in the Far Eastern regions to Russians and foreigners who want to build homes or start businesses in agriculture or tourism.

The document provides for the free handover of 1 hectare (about 2.5 acres) of land to anyone who applies for the program. However, foreign citizens will only be allowed to utilize the land, not own it outright. Registration of full property rights is only possible after the naturalization of potential owners.

The original bill was drafted by the Russian government in November last year. The explanations attached to the document read that the authorities expect the free land handover to attract more people to the Far East Federal District, to slow or stop the outward migration of locals and to boost the socio-economic development of the territory.