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Go East Young Man: A New Russia Land Rush

Russian wilderness
In the Amur Region not far from Blagoveshchensk (by permission - Olya Grebenshchikov)

Authorities in Russia's Far East are reportedly offering large tracts of land to homesteaders and "would-be" pioneers willing to brave the wilderness to improve the nation's far eastern lands.

According to the news, the project "To the Far East" offers free land to those Russian citizens who would build a home and/or farm these vast regions. Those interested gain additional incentives of having no taxes, rents, or other payments of any kind for five years, at which time they would receive ownership titles to the properties. The ministry has also said that unused lands would eventually be confiscated. The land allocations would equal 1 hectare per person home-steading, so a family of four could claim up to 4 hectares or almost 10 acres. 

Those interested are not even required to travel to the location in advance, but instead may select their desired properties using online maps. Russia's Minister for the Development of the Far East, Alexander Galushka, claims the program can increase the region's population six-fold to 36 million. Galushka added this on the website of the program: 

"We view this project as a possibility for Russian citizens to achieve self-realization in our Far East, and for attracting people to the region."

Meanwhile, a pledge by Russia's Ministry of Agriculture to allocate some 2 trillion rubles ($31 billion) in support for the agricultural industry over the next five years accentuates the potential for home-steading with up to $23,000 in financial support for individual herders and farmers. Last week in Vladivostok Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke of ambitious plans for development in these vast regions, in the obvious focus on the country's Asia economic alliance growth. Putin told attendees of the first Russian Eastern Economic Forum: 

'Our main priorities in the Far East are the expansion of economic freedom, providing better business conditions for domestic investors, so that there is an effective capital flow and the Russian Far East can compete successfully with leading [world] business centers." 

Mr. Putin also announced that Russian oil giant Rosneft plans to invest 1.3 trillion roubles ($19 billion) in various projects in the region, which will create in excess of 100,000 new jobs. He also spoke of a 500 billion rouble - $7.4 billion - upgrade to key rail arteries in Siberia, Trans-Siberian and Baikal-Amur Mainline (BAM) as well. 

Taken in its entirety, the message for many Russians is fairly clear. It may be time to "Go East young man, go to the Far East of Russia."