Russian Federation deputies legalized private land ownership in the vast republic, a step its leader, Boris Yeltsin, hailed as a historic decision that will enable Russia to feed itself again.

With Western aid arriving in Moscow almost daily at the onset of the bitter Russian winter, the Russian Congress of People's Deputies passed the key law Monday as part of a comprehensive agrarian-reform package.The measure, which allows individuals to own, buy and sell real estate, grants greater liberty than allowed in the giant Russian republic since the 1930s when Josef Stalin nationalized all land in his brutal collectivization drive.

"Russia at one time fed not only itself but other countries as well, " Yeltsin thundered at a news conference after the legislative session. "I am convinced it is still capable of feeding itself."

The measure, approved 602-369, allows individuals to buy, sell and own private property in the republic that occupies three-quarters of the Soviet Union and is home to more than half its 290 million people.

Yeltsin, saying "land is power," praised the new law as a "triumph for democracy and democrats in the Russian Federation."

Yeltsin acknowledged that the new law, which gives local governments substantial control over all land transactions, does not permit the full freedoms of property ownership that exist in the West.

But the strapping, white-haired Siberian said Russians are not ready to accept full-scale rights of private property after nearly six decades of communist state monopoly on land ownership.

The restrictions in the law require land to be held for at least 10 years before it can be sold and allow an owner to sell only to the local government where it is located.

Yeltsin said the limitations would help prevent speculation and enable Russians to adjust to the idea of private property gradually.

Yeltsin, who became effective president of Russia six months ago in parliamentary elections, said the new law does not eliminate the enormous state and collective farms that have controlled Soviet agriculture for the past half century.


(Additional information)

Needy Pakistan will send food

Impoverished Pakistan has promised to send 10,000 tons of rice to help alleviate food problems in the Soviet Union, according to news reports Tuesday.

Pakistan was responding to a United Nations plea for emergency food aid for the Soviet Union, the independent English-language Moslem newspaper said.

"The donation is being made as a gesture of good will," Sartaj Aziz, Pakistan's Finance Minister was quoted as telling a news conference Monday.

Pakistan and the Soviet Union have been on opposite sides of Afghanistan's civil war since the Soviet Army intervened to fight Moslem guerrillas in December 1979.

The country has been the conduit for billions of dollars in U.S. and Arab aid to the guerrillas. More than 3.8 million Afghan refugees live in Pakistan.