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Yekhanurov: No more ?reprivatization’
Journal Staff Report

KIEV, Sept. 29 - Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov said Thursday Ukraine will stop for good the process of re-privatization, which has been vigorously pushed for by his predecessor, and will seek to revive investments into sluggish economy.

The comment is a first confirmation since after Yekhanurov has been approved as the prime minister Sept. 22 that the government will reverse Yulia Tymoshenko's drive of returning assets to state ownership.

"The re-privatization process is finished," Yekhanurov said at a press conference in Dnipropetrovsk. "We want everybody in the world to understand that the right of private property is sacred in Ukraine."

Tymoshenko, which was dismissed from the post of the prime minister on Sept. 8, has been heavily pushing for returning to the state assets that had been allegedly illegally privatized over the past five years.

Although the process was well received among the people, it had wrecked havoc on the economy by scaring off investors. The economy recorded its first year-on-year contraction in August during the past five years reversing a 12.1% year-on-year growth in 2004.

Appointment of Yekhanurov, a moderate politician and a long-time ally of Yushchenko, was welcomed by economists that had anticipated the re-privatization will be cancelled.

Yekhanurov said that the government will now seek to make deals with owners of the assets in question, a market-friendly approach that is expected to generate more investments into the economy.

"There will be a negotiation process," Yekhanurov said. "Preliminary consultations that I have conducted indicate that all participants are ready for the negotiation process."

E. Anthony Wayne, a U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs, praised the new government's commitment to abandon controversial practices and to go ahead with reforms.

"The process of economic reform is back on track," Wayne told a Ukraine forum in Washington on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the apparent reversal of the government's policy will not postpone an auction to sell 93% stake in Kryvorizhstal, the country's largest steelmaker, and will go ahead and sell the stake Oct. 24.

The government plans to raise between $2 billion and $3 billion from selling the stake and the world's largest steel producers, such as Mittal Steel and Arcelor, have indicated they had been preparing to bid.

"We can't change the rules of the game," Yekhanurov said, adding potential bidders have been recently touring the company before making final decision on the bidding. (tl/ez)

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