Ukraine Pushes Mass Sell-Off Plan

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine's new government has signalled its willingness to press ahead with the mass sell-off of state-owned companies.

Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Rybachuk said the government planned to offer for privatisation "everything but a few strategic businesses".

He told investors in Kiev that the new sell-offs would meet international standards for transparency.

Uncertainty still surrounds several privatisations undertaken by the previous government of Leonid Kuchma.

'Clear ruling'

Chief among those was the controversial sale last year of the Krivorizhstal steel mill for $800m (£440m) to a group whose members included the son-in-law of former President Kuchma.

Ukraine's new administration plans a rerun of the sell-off, after declaring the previous deal illegal.

But Prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko has now ruled out any out-of-court settlement in the disputed case.

"There is already a court ruling. This is a clear ruling that the privatisation was illegal," Ms Tymoshenko said on Thursday.

"There can be no out-of-court settlement. I know of no other way than conducting a new, open privatisation auction."

The government of President Viktor Yushchenko, who came to power after winning a rerun of the disputed 2004 election, has said it plans to review several deals in which state assets were allegedly sold at below-market prices.

However, officials have yet to release a final list of companies.

Source: BBC

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