Insecure Land Rights, Obstacles to Family Farming, and the Weakness of protest in rural Russia

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Oane Visser

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Abstract

After short-lived growth in the early 1990s, Russia’s private family farming sector has been characterized by stagnation, while ownership of former collective and state farms is increasingly concentrated in the hands of the rural elite. This accumulation turns the rural dwellers, who (formally) had become landowners in the early 1990s, again into almost landless farm workers. Although the elite often infringes on the rights of the rural population, the accumulation is hardly met with any collective form of protest, unlike in Latin American countries such as Argentina. Why does a peasant movement (in potential coalition with other interest groups) not exist in Russia? To answer this central question, the article investigates legal, economic and socio-cultural obstacles to the expansion of family farming. Further, the virtual absence of a peasant movement is explained by relating it to the small number of farms, rural demography, informal property relations and the social function of farm enterprises in the Russian village. In English, extensive summary in Russian.
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