11 Nov 2019 17:05

Foreigners to be granted right to buy land in Ukraine only if permitted via nationwide referendum - Zelensky

KYIV. Nov 11 (Interfax) - Citizens of other countries and foreign companies will be granted the right to purchase Ukrainian land only if the Ukrainian people permit this via a referendum, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said.

"Foreigners and companies whose founders include foreigners will be granted the right to purchase Ukrainian land, plots of Ukrainian land only if the Ukrainian people agree to this in a nationwide referendum. The relevant provision will be entrenched in the law [on the opening of the market for agricultural land]," Zelensky said in a video address published on his official pages on social networks on Monday.

In the near future, the Verkhovna Rada will draft and pass a bill, "which is to clearly determine the types and mechanisms of a referendum and finally enable the Ukrainians to decide on the fate of one or another matter that is crucial for them," he said.

The right for only Ukrainian citizens and companies to sell and purchase land will be enshrined in the bill on the land market between the first and second Verkhovna Rada readings, Zelensky said.

"Amendments under which only Ukrainian citizens and Ukrainian companies founded exclusively by Ukrainian citizens will have the right to sell and purchase land will be added to the existing bill between the first and second readings," he said.

At present, Ukrainians "are deprived of the right to sell or buy plots of agricultural land, like citizens of North Korea, Tajikistan, Venezuela, Cuba, and Congo," Zelensky said.

"As the land market exists in other countries, in its neighbors Poland and Belarus, in Germany, France, Italy, Canada, the United States, Japan, Israel, and China," he said.

This issue has been manipulated in Ukraine over the past 20 years, Zelensky said. "The old politicians intimidated the ordinary people, planted a number of myths in their heads, convincing them that this should not be done. Aren't you surprised that the old politicians began caring about the people? Perhaps it is a different matter. Perhaps they are lobbying somebody else's interests, the interests of those who are simply benefiting from Ukrainians' not owning their land? Just think about that," he said.