Over the past ten years, almost 18 million hectares of land became unfit for agricultural use, and that is just about the whole territory of France, Russian President Vladimir Putin told a Monday session of the Russian State Council. The session was discussing purchase and sale of agricultural lands. "While we waste our time arguing who will own the land, weeds are taking hold of it," he stated. Instead of civilized land relations, Russia gets a "gray market, speculation alongside corruption," he went on. All this results in "misappropriation of the land fund and citizens' inability to realize their constitutional rights properly." Apart from being unable to "use land effectively," Russia still has no detailed information about the size and quality of the lands available." Putin also stressed that the country still lacks a detailed land register, and pointed out that the State Council /which currently discusses the government-proposed land bill/ needs information about the positions of the "land users, regions, and local self-governing bodies." What is ultimately needed is an "accurate, well-considered decision," he said. The president also said elaborating on the future law is not enough, because it is also necessary to "arrange the existing legislative system properly." In Putin's opinion, the purchase and sale layout must be "easy to understand and acceptable for peasants." Besides, it has to be able to "streamline economic upturn" and help solve the social problems of rural areas. "We need a legal mechanism to ensure effective and zealous use of land and clear rules to regulate the land market and protect the rights of landowners," stressed the president.
As November 4 approaches (on this day, Russia and Belarus are to sign union programs), disputes between supporters and opponents of the integration become increasingly heated