(AP) Ukraine's economy grew just 4 percent in the first six months of 2005, the government announced Thursday, a sharp downturn from the white-hot growth registered by the former government over the same period a year earlier.

The slowdown poses another hurdle for the new pro-Western government which took power after last year's Orange Revolution amid promises to boost living standards and create 5 million new jobs.

The State Statistics Committee said the economy grew 4 percent between January and July. The committee also noted that GDP growth was slowing, down to 1.1 percent in June, compared with a high of 6.5 percent in January.

Last year, the former Soviet republic recorded growth of 12.7 percent in the first six months of the year and a giant 19.1 percent jump in June 2004. President Viktor Yushchenko has suggested that some of those figures - which earned Ukraine accolades as the fastest growing economy in Europe - might have been doctored by the previous administration.

Economists had earlier predicted a downturn in growth this year, caused in part by falling world prices for metals and continuing investor uncertainty after the change of power. The new government had forecast GDP growth of up to 8.2 percent, boosting a prognosis made by the former government that it would slip to 6.5 percent. However, Yushchenko's administration has begun to scale back its expectations.

Dusan Vujovic, the head of the World Bank's office for Ukraine, said officials were not concerned by the statistics, noting that the figures were preliminary.

"We will stick to our projection of 6 to 7 percent of growth for this year," he said, noting that summer is always slower because of the natural agricultural cycle.

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