Ukraine Votes to Suspend State Privatization Process

KIEV -- Ukraine's parliament Friday approved a proposal by a Communist-dominated alliance to suspend the sale of state property to private hands.

By a 170-99 vote, with 18 abstentions, parliament ordered the Cabinet to draw up a list by Aug. 15 of facilities not to be privatized. Parliament is expected to approve the list in September. Until that time, the document said, all privatization is to be suspended.

Backers of the proposal said the break is needed to establish order in privatization and protect workers' interests.

But opponents said the decision is the wrong direction for Ukraine's crumbling economy, and they doubt the Communist-dominated parliament will really approve the list by September.

The move drove "a wedge between parliament and the president, which may lead to a deplorable experience for the Russian parliament," said Alexander Novikov, secretary of The Interregional Bloc of Reforms, the faction of newly elected president Leonid Kuchma.