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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kuchma Puts Off Privatizing

KIEV — Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma ordered his new government Thursday to suspend the planned privatization of electricity-generating and distribution companies, his press service said.

"The head of state instructed the government and the State Property Fund to temporarily halt the disposal by any means of the shares and property of these [energy] companies," it said in a statement.

Privatization of electricity companies was a key term laid down by the International Monetary Fund to secure lending under its frozen $2.6 billion program.

The government of former Prime Minister Viktor Yushchenko, dismissed by parliament a month ago, had pressed ahead with plans for the sell-offs.

Kuchma has said he did not support the privatizations. He installed an ally and domestic business lobbyist, Anatoly Kinakh, as prime minister this week.

The statement said the decision was taken due to the extreme importance of the electricity companies for the country's economy and national security.

Ukraine has already sold off controlling stakes in six power distribution companies this year.

There was no immediate word on whether Ukraine would seek to reprivatize recently sold stakes. But Kuchma's statement said the authorities wanted to "take a pause and carry out a thorough analysis of the privatizations of energy companies that have already been carried out and of the experience of the new owners of the distributors."

The sale of the six distributors, raising around $150 million, had been intended to kick-start a process that would lead to the privatization of all 27 distributors in Ukraine and eventually also of electricity-generating companies.