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Sevastopol rules out ‘sweeping’ Ukraine oligarchs’ property nationalization

June 19, 2014, 18:39 UTC+3 SEVASTOPOL

Acting Crimean head Sergei Aksyonov said in early June that Ukrainian oligarchs’ properties in Crimea would be returned to state ownership

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Acting Sevastopol governor Sergei Menyailo

Acting Sevastopol governor Sergei Menyailo

© ITAR-TASS/Stanislav Krasilnikov

SEVASTOPOL, June 19. /ITAR-TASS/. The authorities of Sevastopol, a former Ukrainian territory that has become a part of Russia, will strictly comply with law in deciding on the property status of the city’s enterprises belonging to Ukrainian oligarchs, acting Sevastopol governor Sergei Menyailo said on Thursday.

Properties will be transferred to state ownership exclusively within the existing legal framework, Menyailo said.

“Raising the issue of nationalizing private property whose owners are staying abroad would mean pushing authorities towards unlawful actions. We are not criminals,” Menyailo said at a meeting with the city’s trade union leaders.

“We are now sorting out, which properties were privatized and how this was done. But this is a lengthy process because some documents have been destroyed,” Menyailo said.

The initial audit list includes the Sevastopol Sea Factory owned by candy billionaire and newly elected Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, the Balaklava limestone mine, which is part of Smart Holding owned by Vadim Novinsky and the gas firm Sevastopolgaz managed by the companies of Dmitry Firtash.

Local telecom provider Ukrtelecom, which belongs to Donbass coal basin oligarch Rinat Akhmetov and controls 100% of local fixed-line telephone communications, will be edged out through natural competition when Russian telecoms operators enter the market, Menyailo said.

Acting Crimean head Sergei Aksyonov said in early June that Ukrainian oligarchs’ properties in Crimea, including the former residence of last Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev at Foros, would be returned to state ownership, if they had been acquired in violation of law.

“The government of Crimea will take all decisions only in accordance with law. There will clearly be no nationalization of private properties. These facilities will be assessed only from the viewpoint of the legitimacy of their acquisition at the time when Crimea was part of Ukraine,” Aksyonov said.

“If these properties were acquired at market value, there will be no de-privatization,” the acting Crimean head said.

If properties were privatized in violation of law, which was a common practice in Ukraine, prosecutors will respond to these episodes in accordance with Russian legislation and such facilities will be returned to state ownership, he said.

The Crimean authorities are now holding an audit of Ukrainian oligarchs’ properties on the peninsula, including the estates of businessman Ihor Kolomoyskyi who is among those sponsoring Kiev’s so-called “anti-terrorist operation” in east Ukraine, Aksyonov said.

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