Russian president Vladimir Putin has a signed into law a bill which guarantees a 1 hectare tract of land in the nation’s far east for all willing Russian citizens. Any Russian who is interested will be given a piece of land for five years, free of charge and tax, and should they put the land to use in that time they will receive a title to it.

The move is being compared to the 19th century American concept of Manifest Destiny. During that period The United States rapidly expanded from the east to the west coast, driven by the prospect of free land as well as a sense that they were divinely obligated to conquer and settle the entirety of the America’s.

Today’s move by Russia is driven by a hope that greater presence of ethnic Russians in the region will allow for the exploitation of the massive quantities of natural resources that are currently untapped in the region.

There is also concerns that the land there, which is currently occupied by indigenous peoples and Russian outliers, may fall under the influence of the nearly 100 million Chinese citizens that live just across the border. Already the area is seeing the development of Chinese businesses and communities.

The announcement has already been criticized by some who believe that the amount of land given is not enough for agricultural purposes, others have proposed Soviet style communal farms as a potential solution for this.

Natives of the eastern reaches have also voiced concerns that it will spark a gold rush in the region. In March there were protests in Sakha Republic, whose lands are part of the bill, demanding that there be a vote over whether or not they be included.