Vladimir Putin: The land issue has historically been a thorny issue for Russia. It has always transcended economics and had profound social and political implications. That is why the issue needs to be handled with the utmost care, and not only in terms of economics and law.
The current situation as regards the legal support of land relations in the country is appalling. As a result we are losing a powerful driver of the country’s development, we fail to use a potentially active marketable commodity and create conditions for political and economic opportunists. The critical situation stems not only from the virtual lack of federal land legislation, but also from the fact that the regions have a free hand in adopting regional laws.
The federal and regional governments need each other if they are to solve the land question. We are well aware that it is impossible to put together a competent federal land policy without drawing on the experience and practice of the Russian regions. No one knows the situation in the regions better than the regional leaders, and you have your own experience of land management. And if we proceed in our joint work from the particular to the general, starting from the ground in the direct and figurative sense of the word, then it will be effective.
During the course of the discussion I urge you to analyse the achievements and the mistakes that have been made and that have to be avoided in the future.
The Government faces three key problems in the field of land relations.
First: regulation of legal aspects of ownership.
Second: inventory of lands.
Third: creating a system of effective management of land resources.
The starting point should be the adoption of a new Land Code. The Government is finalising the new draft. I am sure the quality of that document would depend in many ways on our discussion at the State Council today.
But the Code alone does not create the whole legal framework for land relations.
There exist two approaches to the legal regulation of land relations.
The first is to concentrate everything at the federal level.
The second is to give the regions a maximum of discretion in regulating land relations, but within the framework of federal law.
We have discussed this problem at the Presidium of the State Council. We reached the consensus opinion that the second option is preferable. I know that the overwhelming majority of regional leaders share this position.
The question of turnover of agricultural lands is the most acute part. These lands account for one fourth of the total land. And we must pay special attention to this issue today.
Besides, there are some more specialised issues which are however extremely important if we are to solve the land problems in a comprehensive and reasonable way. I suggest that we touch upon them during the discussion today.
Specifically I am referring to:
The problem of tight control over proper use of land. I think it is important for any country, but especially for our country. Just think of what happens with misuse of resources and what a mess it has led to. The same should not happen to land. The framework law should envisage sanctions for non-targeted use of land in order to deter people from breaking the law.
The role of the land reform in the development of peasant and farming operations. We should also give thought to big farms. We should see how not to forfeit the few gains that have been made so far.
The status of border lands and questions of their purchase and sale. The leaders of the border regions of Russia are worried and urge the need for a particularly thorough approach to the problem of land use in border areas.
Work to finalise the compilation of the Land Cadastre.
Land ownership in cities that have the status of subjects of the Federation: Moscow and St. Petersburg. I think that situation also calls for special regulations.