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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

3,000 Stake Transfers Planned

The Russian government plans to divest itself of its huge stakes in key companies, ending the last Soviet-era vestiges of state management of industry.

The plan, approved last week by President Boris Yeltsin and reported by Russian news agencies Tuesday, is a victory for reformers in the administration, who have been pushing for rapid privatization.

Although Yeltsin's government has privatized about 70 percent of Russia's state enterprises since the Soviet collapse, it still hold large stakes in about 3,000 companies -- including some of the country's largest. It is prohibited by law from selling them for several years.

The new plan will get around that prohibition by transferring the government's stake in industries to trustees, who will manage the businesses until they can be sold.

"The most important thing here is that one side has won an ideological battle," said Per Mellstroem, head of research at Brunswick Brokerage in Moscow.

First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Potanin, who supports the plan, complained Tuesday that some government ministers reluctant to relinquish control of industries were trying to stymie the hand-over.

Itar-Tass said the first companies to be transferred to trustees will be from Russia's ailing coal industry.

It said the government will transfer its shares in five companies -- Bashkirugol, Vostsibugol, Krasnoyarsk Coal Co., Khakasugol and Leningradslanets -- whose combined output is about 27 percent of the national total.