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From Now On Any Russian Can Be Modern Frontiersman to Conquer Wild East

© REUTERS / Ilya NaymushinA couple stands on rocks near the Yenisei river in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, Russia, August 20, 2016
A couple stands on rocks near the Yenisei river in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, Russia, August 20, 2016 - Sputnik International
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Beginning February 1, all Russian citizens can apply for one hectare of free land in Russia's Far Eastern Federal District to use the land for any lawful purpose. Sputnik has delved deeper to examine what the law entails.

What is “Far Eastern Hectare?”

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Russia’s Federal “Law on the Far Eastern Hectare” came into force on June 1, 2016. Under the pilot program citizens of the Far Eastern Federal District were eligible to receive a free hectare of land in several specially designated regions.

Since October 1, the program was expanded, with residents of the Far East given the chance to receive a piece of land in their own region.

Starting February 1, 2017 people from across the country are given the chance to join the program.

An application form can be filled in on a special website “надальнийвосток.рф” (translated as “ToTheFarEast.RF” in English). Then an applicant can chose any available land lot on a virtual map.

© Sputnik / Evgeny Yepanchintsev / Go to the photo bankView of the Olondo River valley in the Olekminsky Region of the Republic of Sakha, Yakutia
From Now On Any Russian Can Be Modern Frontiersman to Conquer Wild East - Sputnik International
View of the Olondo River valley in the Olekminsky Region of the Republic of Sakha, Yakutia

How to get the legal things done

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If the hectare which an applicant chooses has not been occasionally already occupied by someone else, and all the papers are filled out correctly, the draft Contract of Gratuitous Use of Land will be ready in 20 days.

Three years after signing the contract, the applicant is to submit to the authorities a report on how the land lot is used. If the use is legal and productive, applicants can register the lot as their property or lease it for two more years.

Families can fill out a collective application which will enable them to get a broader land lot at the rate of one hectare per one Russian citizen. The number of relatives eligible to make a collective application is limited to 10 persons.

© Sputnik / Alexandr Piragis / Go to the photo bankA lake near the Vachkazhets mountains at Kamchatka
From Now On Any Russian Can Be Modern Frontiersman to Conquer Wild East - Sputnik International
A lake near the Vachkazhets mountains at Kamchatka

What can be done there?

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Before making the final choice it’s better to decide on the type of activity one plans to carry out there, because the soil is not suitable for agriculture, for example.

However, the state practically does not restrict the scope of the land’s use, unless it is for unlawful purposes or is a part of the Forest Fund or a Water Protection Zone.

The site of the Far Eastern Hectare Project even publishes samples of ready-made business models with indications of minimal initial capital required to settle a poultry farm, production of bottled water, an apiary, fishing or hunting farm and many more. However, the costs are high. Even a modest rabbit farm will cost three million rubles (about US $50,000).

Poor infrastructure in these nearly uninhabited territories is the main obstacle now. But if 20 or more owners of the Far Eastern Hectares settle in the neighborhood they can ask local authorities for assistance in territory planning, transport and social infrastructure construction.

© Sputnik / Alexandr Piragis / Go to the photo bankDachnye hot springs in Kamchatka.
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Dachnye hot springs in Kamchatka.

Moving expenses reimbursement

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According to Aleksandr Galushka, the Minister for the Development of the Russian Far East, people who move to the Far East will get a one-off payment in the amount of 250,000 rubles (about US $4,000) they employ in the region. However, working places is in fact one of the major problems the “frontiersmen” are going to face. So most probably they will create working places for themselves.

The state subsidy for farmers is 1.5 million rubles (about US $25,000).  Another supportive measure is concessional lending to small businesses signed up for the Far Eastern Hectare program with a minimal lending limit of 10 million rubles (about US $166,000) and an interest rate up to 10.6% per annum. Lax mortgage lending with an interest rate of 4% per annum will also be available.

Local residents say the main risk for the frontiersmen of “the Wild East” is the climate of the region which has extremely hot summers and severe winters with floods and droughts following in rotation.

© REUTERS / Ilya NaymushinBirds fly over the Yenisei River in Taiga district outside the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, Russia, September 5, 2016
From Now On Any Russian Can Be Modern Frontiersman to Conquer Wild East - Sputnik International
Birds fly over the Yenisei River in Taiga district outside the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, Russia, September 5, 2016

Will there be enough for all?

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According to the Agency of Human Capital Development in Russia's Far East, about 36,000 applications were submitted during the first two periods of the program, 4,800 people have successfully got their free land, and about 5,000 people are now under audition.

According to the law, the land lots will be available till 2035. According to the Agency, the suburbs of the city of Vladivostok are going to be the only deficit territory. It is close to the coast line, also has the best developed infrastructure, and has already caught the interest of Moscow and Saint Petersburg residents.

© REUTERS / Ilya NaymushinA view shows an island in the Biryusa Bay of the Yenisei River in Taiga district outside the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, Russia, September 5, 2016
From Now On Any Russian Can Be Modern Frontiersman to Conquer Wild East - Sputnik International
A view shows an island in the Biryusa Bay of the Yenisei River in Taiga district outside the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, Russia, September 5, 2016

The first ten million frontiersmen

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According to a survey conducted by the Russian Public Opinion Research Center (WCIOM) in December 2016, 14% of Russian citizens polled expressed an interest in taking land in the Far East. At that, 6.5% answered with a firm yes; 7.5% said “most likely”.  But even 6.5% of the Russian population means over 10 million people who are showing an interest, and are ready to submit an application. And that is a lot compared to the population of the Far Eastern Federal District which now is slightly less than 6 million 200 thousand people.

According to another poll, local residents of the Far East are not inclined to give the frontiersmen a hostile reception. They consider free distribution of lands to be a measure that will contribute much to the economic development of the region.

© REUTERS / Ilya NaymushinA motor boat is seen through the Tsarskie Vorota (Tsar Gate) rock during the sunset in the Biryusa Bay of the Yenisei River in Taiga district outside the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, Russia, September 5, 2016
From Now On Any Russian Can Be Modern Frontiersman to Conquer Wild East - Sputnik International
A motor boat is seen through the Tsarskie Vorota (Tsar Gate) rock during the sunset in the Biryusa Bay of the Yenisei River in Taiga district outside the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, Russia, September 5, 2016
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