Friday, February 28, 2020

Far Eastern Hectare Program Enriching Regional Elites But Not Achieving Its Demographic Goals, Krilevich Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, February 23 – Vladimir Putin’s much-ballyhooed program to offer a free hectare of land to any Russian who moves to the Far East or remains there has failed to meet those goals, but it has done one thing, Maksim Krilevich says; it has put more money into the hands of regional elites.

            That is something positive, the Far Eastern Federal University economist says, because it has bought off many of the elites in the region and thus reduced the tensions that might otherwise have exploded between the various federal subjects in that enormous but underpopulated area and Moscow (

            But that result of the program launched in 2017 and expanded last year is not one that Moscow has advertised, and the specific goals of getting more Russians to move to the region and those Russians living there to stay by giving them free land have failed, with the numbers arriving and the numbers leaving less than they were before the program was initiated.

            The reasons, a Russian journalist writing under a pseudonym for Eurasianet are hardly unexpected: The program was announced with great fanfare, but insufficient money was put in to develop the infrastructure where the land was located and to make it possible for those who took the land to use it as planned (россия-бесплатная-земля-не-мотивирует-людей-переезжать-на-дальний-восток).

            Those problems were exacerbated by the usual bane of Russian existence: bureaucratic difficulties and delays which often made it difficult if not impossible for those who wanted to take part to do so and clever strategies by those for whom the program was not intended to exploit it for their own ends.

            Perhaps the most outrageous of these end-runs was the use of the program to legalize garages for cars owned by people in the cities and towns of the area. They succeeded and boosted some numbers but their use of the program was anything but was intended. Few have been able to start farming or businesses of any kind.

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