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Feb. 16, 2005
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Viktor Yushchenko Attracts Investments with the War on Corruption
// And scares them away with a review of privatization deals
The International Investment Conference was held yesterday in Kiev. In a speech before conference participants, Viktor Yushchenko, the president of Ukraine, said that the new government's principal means of attracting new investments was to reduce the scale of corruption. In his opinion, this alone should serve as a positive signal for investors. At the same time, Yushchenko confirmed his plans to review the results of the privatization of a number of companies owned by both Ukrainian and foreign companies, which will hardly make investors happy.
Don't give bribes to anyone. These were the first words of Yushchenko's speech at the International Investment Conference organized by Renaissance Capital Ukraine. In his opinion, foreign investors can already exclude the line for expenses related to bribes for Ukrainian bureaucrats from their business plans.

Yushchenko promised that a council of international investors under the president, in which Ukrainian businessmen could also participate, would be set up in the next few days. The council will become a direct channel to the Ukrainian government. We recall that when Yushchenko was prime minister, there were a number of these councils under the government (as in Russia). Decisions were made with the participation of ministers and businessmen, with consideration of the agreed-on positions.

According to Yushchenko, the policy of the president and the government of Ukraine would now be targeted at bringing the economy out of the shadows, the war on corruption, guaranteeing an independent, transparent judiciary, and the creation of a favorable investment climate.

There was one more target privatization. The Ukrainian authorities do not intend to carry out large-scale reprivatization or nationalization, the president declared. At the same time, he said that a list of facilities whose privatization raised considerable doubts would be drawn up in the near future. In his words, the list would include about 30 companies. He did not say which ones, but promised not to expand the list. This will not happen to a single company. We will produce the list in the near future after completing the examination. The list will be closed, Yushchenko assured everyone.

Actually, several days ago in Donetsk, he had spoken of 150-200 companies. At the same time, after promising to review the sale of the Krivorozhstal steel works, he made the first announcement of his plans to do the same for companies in the Ukrrudprom holding. Last year, the Russian company Smart Group became the owner of a controlling interest in the Inguletsky Mining and Concentrating Plant, which is part of this holding.

We note that, at present, Yushchenko's political ally, the Socialist Party, or rather, Valentina Semenyuk, the party's representative and most likely candidate for the position of head of the State Property Fund, as well as head of the special parliamentary committee on privatization, is contesting in court the privatization of the Nikolaev Alumina Plant and the Black Sea Shipyards, which are controlled by the Russian company Russian Aluminum (Rusal). The main claim against Rusal is that, in Semenyuk's opinion, the investor is not fulfilling all the commitments assumed on concluding the deal.
Andrey Chernikov, Kiev
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