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UKRAINE'S CONTROVERSIAL PRIVATIZATION SEEN AS PATRIOTIC DEED. State Property Fund head Mykhaylo Chechetov said on Fifth Channel Television on 16 June that he is proud that a Ukrainian bidder won the tender for the Ukrainian steelmaker Kryvorizhstal (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 June 2004). Kryvorizhstal was purchased by a consortium led by two Ukrainian oligarchs, Viktor Pinchuk and Rynat Akhmetov, for some $800 million, despite the fact that foreign bidders offered from $1.2 billion to $1.5 billion for the 93 percent stake that was put up for sale. "I believe that the patriotism of any official is demonstrated by his deeds, not by the language he uses," Chechetov said, switching between Russian and Ukrainian. "[I] could speak Ukrainian but give the company to the Americans or Russians.... But I still speak Russian, and I have left the crown jewel of Ukrainian steel-making to the national investor." One unsuccessful bidder, the LNM and U.S. Steel group, which offered $1.5 billion for the stake and another $1.2 billion in an investment program, has reportedly appealed to the Ukrainian government to review the Kryvorizhstal tender. JM
UKRAINIAN SAILORS SENTENCED IN IRAQ RETURN HOME. Mykola Mazurenko and Ivan Soschenko, who were sentenced in Iraq in October to seven years in prison each for smuggling, are returning to Ukraine, Interfax reported on 17 June, quoting Foreign Ministry spokesman Markiyan Lubkivskyy. Mazurenko and Soschenko were among the crew of the Panamanian-flagged vessel "Navstar-1," which was detained last year off the Iraqi coast with an illegal load of oil (see "RFE/RL Belarus and Ukraine Report," 11 May 2004). After the sentence was handed down to them, the two sailors were incarcerated in the notorious Abu Ghurayb prison in Baghdad. Lubkivskyy said a Ukrainian court will review their case and in the event it confirms the Iraqi verdict, the two will serve their terms in a Ukrainian prison. JM
KREMLIN ADVISER OUTLINES MOSCOW'S POSITION ON PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION IN UKRAINE. Speaking at a press conference in Kyiv, Kremlin insider and National Strategy Council head Stanislav Belkovskii said that Moscow sees three favorable scenarios for Russia in Ukraine's presidential election in October, glavred.info reported on 15 June. The first scenario would be the election of current Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich as president, the second would be the hypothetical re-election to a third term of President Leonid Kuchma, and the third scenario would be the election of a "Ukrainian Putin," that is, a member of the security services. The third scenario would be the most desirable and the first one the least. Belkovskii also stressed that this is not his personal view, but "the opinion of the groups within the administrative-bureaucratic elite that have substantial impact on Putin, but I do not want to personalize," he said. But even if the election is won by Our Ukraine leader Viktor Yushchenko, Ukraine's most popular politician, Moscow will eventually accept it. "Any next president of Ukraine will in retrospect be announced as 'Moscow's candidate,' even if it is Yushchenko," he said. Belkovskii also said he was in Kyiv to open a branch of his institution. Meanwhile, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 15 June that two well-known Moscow political consultants, Marat Gelman and Igor Shuvalov, have moved to Kyiv. The latter is not related to the presidential assistant of the same name. VY