Earlier this month, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law a bill that offer free tracts of land in Russia’s far east to those willing to resettle there. The Russian government hit upon the free land plan as part of a general effort to populate and exploit the country’s underpopulated eastern districts.
The bill makes available 2.5 acres per person, which may be selected and claimed via an online map of the extensive areas of available land. The 2.5 per person limit is extrapolated across the number of people living on the land, meaning that a family of three would be entitled to claim up to 7.5 acres of the available free land, provided that all members were to occupy the eastern land. Those who take advantage of the program will be given five tax-free years to show productive usage of the land, which is expected to come mostly in the form of agricultural yields. If, during that five year period, the land is put to productive use, it will become the permanent property of the claimant.
The far eastern regions of Russia have been declining in population ever since the years of the Soviet Union. Prior to the establishment of the socialist state, the arable parts of the east were home to large portions of Russia’s agricultural peasant population. Now, according to Far East Development Minister Aleksandr Gulushka, this program will give Russian citizens an opportunity to repopulate the area and to achieve what he referred to as “self-realization in the far east.”
The program will officially begin in February of 2017 with the availability of eastern regions close to the Russian border with China. As time goes on, however, large regions of southern Siberia and the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia’s extreme east are expected to undergo similar repopulation programs. Foreigners are also eligible to apply for a land grant of equal size to those of Russian citizens, but will be required to become naturalized as citizens before full property ownership can be granted. In addition to the land grants, the Ministry of Far East Development is planning to begin building basic infrastructure in the areas to be developed to facilitate the productive use of the free land.
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