Abandoning Reform, Russia Prepares to Sell Farmland
|June 26, 2002||Posted by Staff under Progress Report, The Progress Report|
Russia Prepares to Sell Farmland
Russian Land Law Bans Foreigners
Here are some selected portions from a recent Associated Press report on land privatization in Russia.
by Angela Charlton
Russia’s lower house of parliament has passed a bill that would allow the sale of Russian farmland for the first time since the days of the czars, but would bar foreigners from buying it.
By a vote of 258-149 with five abstentions, the State Duma passed the bill in the third and final reading and sent it to the upper house for approval. It is widely expected to pass there, and be sent to President Vladimir Putin, who has supported the bill, for signing.
The debate over foreign buyers has been a key thorn in a decade of post-Soviet efforts to free up land nationalized after the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. Many lawmakers and local officials have voiced strong fears that free land sales would allow rich foreigners to snap up Russia’s best agricultural land from impoverished Russian farmers.
Before passing the bill in its second reading last Friday, the Duma overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the bill banning the sale of all agricultural land to foreigners. The amendment would allow foreigners and foreign-owned organizations to lease farmland but not purchase it.
The farmland in the world’s largest country is estimated to be worth $80-100 trillion, a large share of Russia’s collective wealth. Much of it is now controlled by struggling, debt-laden collective farms, where the structure and production technology have changed little since the Soviet era.
For more information, see Mason Gaffney’s 1999 Speech to the Russian Duma
What effect will this have on the Russian economy? The article fails to mention, and perhaps the Duma has failed to consider, how land values will be assessed and taxed. What ought to happen? Tell your views to The Progress Report!