Govt drafts bill for ‘1-hectare per Russian’ in Far East

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has ordered the cabinet to draft the bill allowing every Russian citizen to get 1 hectare land plot in the Far East for free on condition that the land would not be passed on or rented to foreigners.

The PM ordered the development of a special web service that would allow Russians to get all the necessary papers confirming their property rights remotely and with a minimum of red tape. The plots will be divided from land that’s currently federal and municipal property.

The explanations to the bill, released on the government website on Tuesday, say Russian 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 boost the socio-economic development of the territory.

The bill also prohibits any use of land plots received for free by foreign citizens. It specifically details all types of legal schemes used in real estate to get around this and bans them – for example actual sale, passing as a gift, renting out, trust management, free use, etc.

The idea of a ‘Russian Homestead Act’ was first proposed in mid-January this year by the presidential envoy to the Far East Federal District Yury Trutnev, who proposed 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.

As Trutnev presented his plan to the press, he said President Vladimir Putin had called the initiative correct in principle and noted that similar programs had been successfully implemented historically in Siberia. Putin also urged all responsible officials to be precise and cautious when detailing the conditions for land ownership.

Recently a similar bill was prepared by MPs from the center-left party Fair Russia, who claimed that a free land handover would increase the strength of the middle class in the country, help agriculture and the development of unpopulated regions. However, the leftists’ bill was not limited to the Far East Federal District and allowed for the handout of land plots throughout Russia.