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    FOREST CODE NEW WORDING INTENDS PRIVATE FOREST OWNERSHIP - GREF

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    MOSCOW, FEBRUARY 2. /RIA NOVOSTI / -- A new wording of the Forest Code indents private ownership of forests, Minister for Economic Development and Trade German Gref said at the Monday press conference on results of the ministerial discussion of the bill.

    "The code seals the institution of private property. Private ownership may emerge in the process of use of forest blocks on long-term lease", Gref said.

    "If the block has been in use for 15 years and the lease-holder has fulfilled all the obligations, he is entitled to get the forest as property", the minister explained.

    At the same time, "the right-of-ownership formula still needs perfection". "It was one of the most disputed questions" today, said Gref. He did not rule out that the clause may be altered before the bill reaches the government.

    The minister also said that the Russian Federation preserves the right of forest ownership, while the right to be in command of the forest stock will be passed to federation entities. "They /federation entities/ will hold auctions for the right to use the forest stock, sign lease contracts and monitor execution of such contracts", Gref explained.

    To him, the code intends long-term lease of forest blocks for a term up to 99 years. Any individual or legal person can be the lease-holder. This rights goes for foreign legal persons in full measure, except some exemptions, such as the lease of forests on border territories, explained the minister.

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