Medvedev Plans More Homes

APPresident-elect Medvedev attending a meeting in the Kremlin on Wednesday.
President-elect Dmitry Medvedev on Wednesday called for the building of 1 million homes per year on "idle" federal land confiscated from ministries and agencies and held in a new state-run development fund.

Each "low-cost" house should have between 70 and 120 square meters of living space, Medvedev said at a Kremlin meeting on so-called national projects.

Nearly 80 percent of the country's 142 million people live in Soviet-era apartments, Medvedev said, according to a transcript of his remarks on his web site. That compares with 10 percent to 30 percent in countries like the United States, Canada and Britain, he said.

"Of course this is the remnant of a policy of leveling, when any individuality was purposefully quashed," Medvedev said.

"Every family in Russia should have the opportunity to build its own home," he said. "Vast territories are lying idle."

Unscrupulous officials are driving up property prices by making it difficult for builders to acquire land, Medvedev said.

The fund, which may be formed as early as this year, will accumulate "several million" hectares of land, Kremlin aide Igor Shuvalov told reporters after the meeting. Cities, towns and villages occupy just 1 percent of Russian territory, he said. "We'll start with ourselves," by withdrawing federal land, Shuvalov said. Regional Development Minister Dmitry Kozak will oversee the project, which may include municipal land "if local authorities support this initiative," Shuvalov said.

The plan may be a boon for developers, though everything will depend on how it is implemented, said Ivan Vashurin, of AFI Development.