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ukraine-related news stories from RFE

MITTAL WINS UKRAINIAN STEEL AUCTION WITH $4.8 BILLION BID... The German branch of the Netherlands-based consortium Mittal Steel purchased a controlling stake in Ukraine's Kryvorizhstal steelworks for $4.8 billion on 24 October, international news agencies reported the same day. The price was a record for a privatization auction in Ukraine, dpa reported. In the 45-minute auction, which was televised live, the German branch of Mittal Steel, Mittal Steel Germany GmbH, won 93 percent of Kryvorizhstal with a bid of 24.2 billion hryvnya ($4.8 billion). Two Ukrainian consortiums also participated in the auction: Kyiv-based Smart Group and Donetsk-based Industrial Group. Kryvorizhstal accounts for 20 percent of total steel output in Ukraine, which is the seventh-largest steel exporter in the world. BW

...AS HEAD OF PROPERTY FUND FALLS ILL FOLLOWING POLITICAL BATTLE. Valentyna Semenyuk, the head of the Ukrainian State Property Fund, has been hospitalized with high blood pressure, ITAR-TASS reported on 24 October. She reportedly became ill after the Political Council of Ukraine's Socialist Party, of which she is a member, asked her to resign over the Krivorizhstal privatization. The Socialist Party sought to have the steel giant turned over to the state. Ukrainian State Property Fund Deputy Chairman Oleksandr Bondar said that "there was no political implication behind Semenyuk's illness. Her health has really worsened." BW

U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY GIVES SUPPORT TO UKRAINE AT NATO CONFERENCE... Speaking at a NATO conference in Vilnius on 23 October, Donald Rumsfeld highlighted Washington's support for Ukraine's bid to join, international news agencies reported the same day. In his remarks, Rumsfeld stressed Kyiv's progress on political and military reform. "Progress [on reform] has been made and we encourage it and are available to be of assistance in various ways," Reuters quoted Rumsfeld as saying at a press conference in Vilnius. Reuters quoted an unidentified senior U.S. official as saying that Rumsfeld arrived in Lithuania on 22 October -- one day earlier than scheduled -- to stress Washington's support for Ukraine with the European defense ministers who have been more cautious about Ukraine joining the alliance. Ukraine has said it hopes to join the alliance in 2008, during a tentatively scheduled NATO summit. BW

...AS UKRAINIAN DEFENSE MINISTER SAYS RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA SHOULD NOT SUFFER. Anatoliy Gritsenko said on 23 October that Kyiv's future integration with NATO should not harm relations with Russia, ITAR-TASS reported the same day. "Russia and many wise Russians think that Poland and Baltic countries, which are NATO members, do not endanger Russia. Ukraine has normal relations with Russia and does not infringe its interests in any way," Gritsenko said after meeting with Rumsfeld. ITAR-TASS quoted a source in the Ukrainian Defense Ministry as saying that Gritsenko and Rumsfeld discussed bilateral U.S.-Ukrainian relations, a "cooperation plan" for 2006, and the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from Iraq after the December parliamentary elections there. BW