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'The few descriptions of Irkutsk had spoken of it as the Paris of Siberia'

Russia gives away one hectare of farmland and forest to its citizens 

By 0 and 0 and 0
27 July 2015


The bill gives an opportunity to every Russian citizen to obtain one hectare of land in the Far East for free use for the first five years and then acquire ownership of their land allotments at no cost if the plot has been used for activities not banned by Russian laws Picture: Natalia Korneva

The land handout is a radical scheme from the Russian government to reverse a potentially catastrophic population decline on the Pacific rim in the extreme east of the country. 

People will be able to register and receive plots on the web. The offer includes land that can be farmed, and forested territory, with the potential to sell timber, or simply set up home and a smallholding. 

Those wanting to becoming landowners in the Far East should use their plot for five years after which it can become theirs for free. Later, they could sell it. 

 About 30 million Russians - especially the young - are ready to go east and take up the offer, according to the VTSIOM public opinion research centre as a public discussion on the plan kicked off. Such a shift would be on a scale of historical proportions, transforming the region.

'Free land grants is a powerful potential for developing our Eastern territories and an opportunity to radically - almost six fold -  increase the far eastern population from 6.4 million to 36 million people,' said Alexander Galushka, minister responsible for development of these regions. 

Some 28% said they wanted to organise individual self-reliance households on their land; 19% said they would like to become farmers while 16% said that the land grants was an opportunity for them to change their place of residence, said the press service of the Ministry for Far Eastern Development.

Resettlement to Far East

Resettlement to Far East

Russian settlers on the Far East in the beginning of the 20th century. Picture: Okhota i Rybalka, RussianKoreanTV

The bill gives an opportunity to every Russian citizen to obtain one hectare of land in the Far East for free use for the first five years and then acquire ownership of their land allotments at no cost if the plot has been used for activities not banned by Russian laws, reported TASS. 

The land will be confiscated in case of non-use. Foreigners will have no right to get the free land. 

'If the requested plot of land is part of the designated forest land, this cannot be a cause for refusal to provide the plot of land in accordance with the provisions of this law,' states an official government document on the land handout. 

The exception are lands designated 'protected forests'. The scheme may appeal to patriotic Russians seeking to rebuild their own lives and improve their country at the same time. 

Yet there are sceptics who recall a giveaway of share vouchers during the privatisation of old Soviet industries in the 1990s. The shares quickly found their way into the hands of a few spectacularly rich tycoons. 

Some fear that oligarchs will do the same here, and then deftly switch the land into the hands of the Chinese who are keen to hold agricultural property long term, to supply their country's food needs. 

There are already murmurs of dissent about deals in several regions to put land into Chinese hands. 

As one sceptical blogger forecast gloomily: 'It is yet another fraud by our bureaucrats. These pieces of land will be given to unknown people and then the land will be sold (sorry, given for rent for 100 years) to Chinese people.'

Resettlement to Far East

Resettlement to Far East

The plots of land will be no closer than 20 kilometres to settlements with 300,000 or more residents; and no closer than 10 kilometres to towns with 50,000 to 300,000 residents. Pictures:, The Siberian Times

Another warned: 'It is just like that vouchers story in 1990s, at the end of which a couple of oligarchs will get hold of it and we'll see 2-3 more agricultural oligarchs, who will hire Chinese people to work there.'

Natural Russian pessimism? 

Time will tell, assuming the plan is approved, but potential incomers will need to be doggedly determined as were settlers to Siberia and the Far East during periods in the past. 

The plots of land will be no closer than 20 kilometres to settlements with 300,000 or more residents; and no closer than 10 kilometres to towns with 50,000 to 300,000 residents. 

Another blogger warned potential land grabbers to beware of 'high Far East prices, a different climate, thousands of mosquitos and other insects you have never seen before'.

If the law secures final approval in Moscow, the programme will start working on 1 January 2016 and run for 19 years.

Comments (48)

In the 1760's Catherine the Great of Russia who was of German descent imported Germans from all over Germany to farm the Volga river areas. ASSR as the region was later known as but about 110 years later Alexander the 1st ? Started to take their freedoms from them so many Volga Germans as they were called emigrated to the American west as well as south America and Canada. You need at least 10 to 12 Hectares to live on as a farmer and a small holder at that.
Brian, USA
25/11/2015 02:50
This is amazing idea! Not that it's new, but I didn't think that I would every see anything like this from Russia. This country really cares about it's people. Extrapolating this not only from this instance but also what they've been doing recently. Some of the people leaving comments are actually confusing acre and hectare. Hectare is 2.5 times larger than acre. In US person can live on one acre of land (a family likely needs about 4), but in Siberia family would likely need at least 5 acres, more likely 8, depending on the length of growing season. I just hope that Russians aren't throwing it's people under the bus...
Franc, Canada
26/09/2015 21:08
Can foreigners also get land for free?
08/09/2015 22:58
Love your own piece of motherland and together we can change our world for the better, the principles are simple.... Thank you to Anastasia for making people aware & Vlamimir Megre for capturing the important images through the ringing cedars series, life changing!
Stef Shambala, Warrington
06/09/2015 14:47
in the 1800s Russia gave land to german immigrants . it was put to use and developed the area. perhaps this is a chance for some people to get off the merry-go-round and enjoy a unique opportunity
leonard, camrose,canada
12/08/2015 09:12
Thomas, Germany
You´re not very well informed. The east of Ukraine is actually the place where people ARE working, mining, agriculture etc. This is where you find the factories and mines. Anyway, now more than a million of them fled to Russia and this could definitely be an opportunity for them.
Wilhelm Barfot, Sweden
12/08/2015 06:51
I would like to see these people take it to the next level and provide their own utilities as well.. bring IN KESHE. We at Timeless Solutions would teach someone to not only live but thrive on there one acre. To the gentleman who said he could not live on one acre did you know you can grow over 100k pounds of organic food in that space. Be surrounded by a edible landscape? Put a tiny house on it and either further your space .. give it a loft and a cellar and your good to go. Even if you need something bigger we have created all scales. This is a opportunity for people who have never owned land to really step up and become a self sufficient people. We have to think outside the box..
Aeon, Sedona Arizona
11/08/2015 22:14
It worked in Canada,, a hundred years ago and everyone propered,,

However Julius Ceasor, also gave land to his soldiers in return for their Loyalty and within ten years it had been bought up and sold to the rich.
Robert Carriere, Canada
11/08/2015 19:55
Russia please take all gypsies from europe and give them the land. In 10 years Siberia will have 100 mil people.
wp, Europe
31/07/2015 09:13
1 hectar? It is damn stupid idea. 1 acre of land in Canada is like 2000 dollars, In some provinces like PEI you can buy it as low as 1000. I am comparing Canada because similar climate.

And I am just asking who will move Far East because you will get couple thousand dollars?????????
Petar, Croatia
29/07/2015 01:13
I recall reading about this in the books of Vladimir Megre some years ago. Great Idea!
Stephen, South Africa
28/07/2015 19:33
Thomas, I believe some sort of validation is in order for such baseless claims.
Soffer, Ukraine
28/07/2015 18:19
Enrique, Eastern Ukrainians don't like to work. All they want is free money.
Thomas, Germany
28/07/2015 18:07
Add a wife to that packet and this germanic haplotype-possessing individual is ready to liberate the land!
Bernd Petrosyan, Asberg, Germany
28/07/2015 17:47
This is a freaking awesome idea!!
Ivan, USA
28/07/2015 10:07

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