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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Dacha Amnesty Progress Defended

VedomostiA dacha compound in the Moscow region. Vasilyev said 33 million properties in the country still need to be registered.
More than a year after the introduction of an amnesty campaign for unregistered dachas, the government remains confident of the initiative's success despite widespread allegations of systematic abuse, corruption and incompetence.

The dacha amnesty law, which was approved by President Vladimir Putin in July 2006, actually affects a wide range of buildings, including dachas and garages, and was designed to give people the right to retroactively legalize land ownership and construction work carried out during the chaos of the 1990s.

In an interview with Rossiiskaya Gazeta on Wednesday, Sergei Vasilyev, head of the Federal Registration Service, said participation in the program had been better than media reports have suggested.

Vasilyev said 620,000 citizens have so far applied to register their properties, a vast increase on the previously reported figure of around 40,000.

"If in the first month of the scheme [October 2006], 26,000 people applied to us for registration; this August, 67,000 people applied," Vasilyev said.

Vasilyev denied claims that the law's implementation had been held up by bureaucratic bungling, but conceded that the participation still remained "little more than a drop in the ocean."

There are around 33 million properties still to be registered in the country, he said.

Under the dacha amnesty legislation, there is no time limit for people seeking to legalize their properties, Vasilyev said.

"Whoever wants to register their rights to a dacha, a plot of land or a garage can come along to us tomorrow, in a year, or in five years," he said. "The current law, I repeat, has no limit."

But despite Vasilyev's positive appraisal of the work done so far, the Prosecutor General's Office announced Friday that it was opening up a raft of investigations into perceived bureaucratic abuses of the system.

"Checks have shown that breaches in the law have been quite widespread," the prosecutor's office said in a statement.

"There have been many confirmed cases where various administrative barriers have been created to prevent citizens realizing their rights," the prosecutor's office said. "As a result, a large number of citizens have not properly registered their rights to their properties."

"The situation was that in the 1990s, there wasn't the adequate legal framework and a lot of building was carried out and land claimed illegally," said Oleg Repchenko, chief analyst at IRN.ru, a web site that monitors the real estate market.

"And so this law was put together to try to deal with the problems that had arisen during the transition period," Repchenko said.

A major problem was a previous apparent contradiction in the law throughout the 1990s, which denied people the right to privatize their land, he said.

Under the dacha amnesty law, the right to privatize land free of charge has been extended by an additional three years, until March 1, 2010.