Yushchenko Pushes for Ownership Rights

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko on Tuesday called on lawmakers and his government to approve a memorandum that safeguards ownership rights, a move aimed at reducing concerns about the re-nationalization of already privatized companies.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko (R) and Czech Republic President Vaclav Klaus

"Signing this document, (we'll) show readiness to work from the basis that the law on reprivatization cannot be reconsidered," Yushchenko said during a business forum with Czech investors.

Yushchenko also said he hopes within a year to have a new list of state enterprises that are ready for privatization. He said the list may include Ukraine's telephone monopoly, Ukrtelekom.

Yushchenko's comments come amid government efforts to undo some of the privatization deals conducted during the decade-long rule of former President Leonid Kuchma. Last week, the government announced it had assumed control of the giant steel mill, Kryvorizhstal, which was bought last year by Kuchma's son-in-law Viktor Pinchuk and another tycoon.

Currently, officials are preparing a list of other privatizations they plan to challenge. Yushchenko has criticized his government for casting its net too wide, saying that it has sparked fear among investors. He said the list of deals to be challenged should be small, and those not on it should receive immediate guarantees that their business is safe.

Yushchenko was joined at the forum by Czech President Vaclav Klaus, who came to Ukraine for an official visit to discuss investment opportunities for Czech business leaders in Ukraine.

Source: AP