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Putin orders issue of land plots in Crimea, Sevastopol and the Moscow region to “distinguished” Russian war veterans

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued a directive recommending that land plots in the Moscow region, Crimea and Sevastopol be granted free of charge to distinguished “special military operation” veterans. The document was published on Russia’s official portal of legal information.

Local authorities now have to adopt legislative acts in line with the decree. Putin has suggested that land plots be given to veterans of combat operations who “distinguished” themselves during the war and received state awards, as well as to the families of deceased servicemen. The decree came into force today.

In March, Putin signed a law granting veteran status to participants in the war in Ukraine. The law applies to all Russian volunteers who have taken part in combat operations since February 24, as well as those involved in formations created in the annexed territories. The law entitles them to monthly payments and tax benefits, free travel on commuter trains, priority medical care, as well as other benefits.

Putin also signed a decree on preferential admission to universities for children of military personnel who took part in the war in Ukraine.

The mass “gifting” of Crimean land to the Russian military after the annexation began in 2015, and was initiated by then-governor Sergei Menyailo – now the head of North Ossetia. Menyailo signed secret order No. 195PR, regulating the transfer of land and property belonging to the Black Sea Fleet under the Soviet Union to the Ministry of Defense. With the order, Menyailo effectively transferred a vast amount of land and real estate in Sevastopol to the Russian Ministry of Defense.

Following the order, land plots that people have legally lived on for decades ended up at the disposal of the Russian military. Many beaches were also handed over to the military, and one of them, Tavrida in Batiliman, was subsequently fenced off, with locals barred from entering. In 2019, the Defense Ministry finally gained control of Tavrida, as well as the popular “Tolstyak” (“Fatty”) beach from the city through a local court decision. Sevastopol residents were only allowed to use part of the area through an easement.

In 2017, Sevastopol began public hearings on the adoption of a new General Plan, which delineated the city into zones. The lands of the Ministry of Defense were marked in gray – it was then that the territories Menyailo had given to the military were revealed. Among other things, the gray zone included the entire coastal village of Kacha, along with homes, businesses and even churches.

The transfer of land did not remain only on paper: the Ministry of Defense began to sue property owners and the city government. In July 2018, the Russian MoD began a lawsuit with the owners of the Novacentre hypermarket, demanding that the building be recognized as an “unauthorized structure” and demolished. The military intends to build a branch of the “Patriot” park – a propagandist military theme park – in its place.

The MoD began to cut down redwood trees for the construction of houses for military personnel in Kazachya (“Cossack”) Bay, the site of a military unit. A WWII-era common grave is located five meters away from the site of the tree felling and the future construction area. Part of the park, which was founded 60 years ago by a group of WWII veterans, was also cut down. The construction project will include the construction of ten-story buildings and townhouses. The MoD envisions the area as a neighborhood of more than 1,000 apartments.

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