KIEV, Jan. 14 – Vitaliy Hayduk, the billionaire owner of a steel empire, was nominated on Monday by Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko as Ukraine’s deputy prime minister for industry and energy, First Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Turchynov said.
Other nominations include Andriy Portnov, Tymoshenko’s lawyer, as the head of the State Property Fund, and David Zhvania, a financial sponsor of Our Ukraine-People’s Self-defense party, as the head of the Anti-Monopoly Committee.
These nominations, which must be approved by Parliament, complete the appointments of positions within the executive branch of power following the change of the government last month.
“I am convinced the democratic coalition will approve these nominations,” Tymoshenko said on Monday while traveling to Dnipropetrovsk. “This will complete the appointments [of the new government] by Parliament.”
Hayduk, a former top security advisor to President Viktor Yushchenko, is thought to own 50% of the Industrial Union of Donbas, a diversified conglomerate that includes major steel assets.
Hayduk, a pro-Western figure, has been advocating for a tougher response from Ukraine during a natural gas price dispute with Russia in early 2006. The dispute led to brief disruptions of gas supply from Russia to the European Union.
Hayduk is also known as an advocate of building an alternative route of oil and gas supplies to reduce dependence on Russian oil and gas imports. The appointment of Hayduk to the post would signal that Ukraine might be moving faster in that direction, analysts said.
Portnov, who is supposed to replace Valentyna Semeniuk as the head of the state property fund, Ukraine’s privatization agency, is expected to spearhead Tymoshenko’s controversial plans for privatization policy.
Tymoshenko sparked controversy in early 2005, during her first time as the prime minister, by pledging to re-privatize 3,000 of companies sold in Ukraine since early 1990s.
The plan, which she claimed was to punish corruption and illegal privatizations, scared investors and led to capital flight from Ukraine, contributing to a major economic slowdown by the middle of 2005.
This time around, Tymoshenko pledged taking no sweeping action against thousands of assets. But she still indicated some of the assets, such as Nikopol Ferroalloy Plant, one of the world’s biggest producers of ferroalloys that is owned by Viktor Pinchuk, a billionaire and Tymoshenko’s long time foe, must be taken back to state ownership.
Portnov, thought to be one of Ukraine’s best lawyers that focus on privatization deals, is likely to become Tymoshenko’s tool for the re-privatization, analysts said.
Zhvania is expected to replace Oleksiy Kostusev, a member of opposition Regions Party, as the head of Ukraine’s anti-cartel agency. (nr/ez)