Can you hold Kamchatka?
May 14, 2016 9:17 AM   Subscribe

Free land in Russia's Far Eastern Federal District

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed into law a bill to hand out hectares of land free of charge in Russia's Far East in a bid to attract people to the vast region.

Under the law, Russian citizens can receive a one-hectare land plot owned by state or municipal authorities in such regions of the Far East as Sakha-Yakutia, Kamchatka, Primorye, Khabarovsk, Amur, Magadan, Sakhalin, the Jewish Autonomous Region, and Chukotka.

Those interested in the offer can hold on to their land plots free of rent, tax or any other payment for five years. After that, they will receive titles to the plots if they can prove the land has been used during the period.
posted by zinon (24 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
I was reading about this earlier. It looks to my cynical side that this is a brilliant way for Putin to transfer vast tracts of land to his oligarch cronies while looking like he's doing something really great for the common people. I predict lots of people will get their hectares and then turn around and sell to the highest bidder. The big red flag is noting that there's a lot of natural resources in these areas.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:26 AM on May 14, 2016 [8 favorites]


One hectare of land in a remote region doesn't seem all that useful. It seems small for homesteading / farming, and if there were attractive jobs out there, wouldn't people already be moving there? I suppose you could strike it rich if your tract of land happened to offer access to mineral deposits or something? But how would the people who are the theoretical targets of this (people for whom free land is an attraction) even begin to fund the geosurveys needed to find anything valuable on their own land?
posted by jacquilynne at 9:28 AM on May 14, 2016 [5 favorites]


One hectare is not a lot of land - about 2.5 acres. This couldn't possibly be useful to a person or family looking to get a single tract and live off it.
posted by Elly Vortex at 9:29 AM on May 14, 2016 [6 favorites]


While I suspect something similar to fffm, the criterion to demonstrate use of the land over 5 years before the title can be transferred may prove a bit of a wrinkle (as Elly Vortex points out, this is not a lot of land). However, there may be some arrangement with the future owners where (let's say) a company prospecting for minerals is able to establish themselves on a plot they intend to purchase, there by demonstrating use during the 5 years.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:43 AM on May 14, 2016


Seems like a good opportunity for an Ivan Appleseed
posted by srboisvert at 9:51 AM on May 14, 2016


These kinds of land grants typically exclude deep mineral rights from the outset (see Canada's creation of Nunavut for an example). There won't ever be another government land give-away that turns out to be sitting on top of problematic mineral resources anywhere in the world. The fight over uranium in American Indian Reserves taught the world about that mistake.
posted by srboisvert at 9:57 AM on May 14, 2016


If China wants it, which the concern seems to be they do, and Russia's not doing anything with it, why not just sell it to China?
posted by Sys Rq at 10:02 AM on May 14, 2016


It looks to my cynical side that this is a brilliant way for Putin to transfer vast tracts of land to his oligarch cronies while looking like he's doing something really great for the common people.

Too complicated. Possibly a move to counter any rumblings of Siberian secessionism.

This couldn't possibly be useful to a person or family looking to get a single tract and live off it.

Maybe no, maybe yes.

If China wants it, which the concern seems to be they do, and Russia's not doing anything with it, why not just sell it to China?

Pride. And I expect they remember Alaska.

I'd never heard of the Jewish Autonomous region, so that was worth the click
posted by IndigoJones at 10:15 AM on May 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


40 acres rubles and a mule Kalashnikov?
posted by Fizz at 10:17 AM on May 14, 2016 [4 favorites]


The first thing on my mind is the indigenous peoples. Russia has spent 200 years trying to extinguish the peoples of Siberia through murder, "re-education" and dilution. As much as those things persist in Russia, looking at China's history, I can only imagine what horrors might await the indigenous residents if Siberia came into Chinese hands. At least the ineptness of the Russians means that they don't have the manpower, willpower or resources to tear up every inch of land and suck it dry. The Chinese would move in hundreds of millions overnight, and strip the soil inch-by-inch. Indigenous peoples would be placed on reserves or in tokenized villages to rot. The only grace of modern-day media in China is that, despite events like Tienanmen square, the Chinese government can no longer commit genocidal acts like castrating tens or hundreds of thousands of non-Han "insurrectionists".
posted by constantinescharity at 10:25 AM on May 14, 2016 [4 favorites]


"Yes. Yes, this is a fertile land, and we will thrive. We will rule over all this land, and we will call it..."This Land."

-Wash's Stegosaurus. Firefly, EP, 1.
posted by clavdivs at 10:27 AM on May 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


IndigoJones: "Maybe no, maybe yes."

The first article especially is hilariously optimistic. It talks about buying hay for your cow for example and completely discounts/ignores the need for heat. Both articles are essentially talking about hobby farms heavily supplemented by outside income streams.

Anyways unless there is some other compelling reason to set up in these areas I don't see this having much effect. We've had the same thing in Canada for decades (run by municipalities rather than the federal government) and there is little uptake.

Now if they were giving away more standard 1/4 section homesteads or they were building industry that needed workers I could see people moving.
posted by Mitheral at 10:40 AM on May 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm going to move into Alaska. /rolls dice
posted by Sphinx at 11:20 AM on May 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


We should have put in our bid twenty-four years ago. ;)
posted by Guy Smiley at 11:26 AM on May 14, 2016


He should run a free lottery. Top prize, one hectare of land in Kamchatka. Second prize, five hectares of land in Kamchatka.
posted by Segundus at 12:50 PM on May 14, 2016 [6 favorites]


I'm guessing that what will turn out to be humanity's longest term investment/gamble will pay off for the Russian empire in the next 50 to 100 years, as its 500 year old conquest and occupation of Siberia turns out to take it from having an unusable ⅛ of the world's land to having over 50% of its most productive land. Climate change will massively improve it for human occupation, and I'd bet on its population increasing 10-fold in the next 100 years. If I were expecting to be alive for more than another 50 years.
posted by ambrosen at 1:28 PM on May 14, 2016 [5 favorites]


I have to say, it seems to have worked. If by worked, you mean, made me seriously consider a trip on the Trans-Siberian railway this summer. Especially as Aeroflot are selling flights from Tokyo-London for €255 to get me home.
posted by ambrosen at 1:41 PM on May 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


I thought traditionally, one had to be tenth level and clear out all the monsters in the area first.
posted by happyroach at 1:50 PM on May 14, 2016 [4 favorites]


Check that film "long way round" about the motorcycle guys riding across eastern russia. super remote and brutally cold winters.

isn't that the area where they found that remote family living the past 50+ years unaware of civilization?
posted by CrowGoat at 1:51 PM on May 14, 2016


The Lykovs.

This is where they were discovered, though the last of them, Agafia Lykova, has travelled to a more urban area for medical treatment.
posted by jacquilynne at 2:19 PM on May 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


Is there anything Russia can do that wouldn’t be made to look suspicious in some obscure indirect way whenever possible? If it was any other country doing that to incentivize development of comparable remote regions everyone would just say ah ok cool and move on to more interesting news but no Putin signed this just in case you forgot he’s really evil there must be an imperialist masterplan behind all this for sure.
I miss the cold war it was all more straightforward.
posted by bitteschoen at 2:52 PM on May 14, 2016


Of all the places in Russia, I'd love to see Kamchatka someday. Kronotsky is supposed to be one of the most beautiful volcanoes in the world, an almost perfectly symmetrical cone.

I don't know about living there, though:
The Pacific Plate is subducted beneath the Okhotsk plate just miles off Kamchatka's coast, and the peninsula is very geologically active. Two of the most powerful earthquakes of record shook the peninsula in 1737 and 1952 at ~9.3 and 9.0 magnitude, respectively. The latter caused a tsunami which ravaged Hawaii and even reached as far as New Zealand and Chile. In addition to these two megaquakes, powerful earthquakes occur quite often. A 6.0 magnitude earthquake occurs every 3-5 years with a 7.0 quake occurring every 10-15 years.
posted by Pallas Athena at 4:14 PM on May 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


From TFA: The move is part of Moscow's desire to leverage the unexploited potential of a region that remains a kind of "Wild West" — a realm rich in natural resources but whose residents hail from scattered indigenous tribes…

That's great. Just…great. Fuck.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:04 AM on May 15, 2016


Is it also to help fight off any Chinese territorial-like claims because there are (at least on paper) Russians living there?
posted by maryr at 10:13 AM on May 15, 2016


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