(AP) - Viktor Pinchuk, the tycoon son-in-law of former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, said Wednesday that the new government will end reprivatization and create a much better climate for Ukrainian and foreign businesses.

"We have now had a very expensive lesson," he told a small group of reporters, referring to the legal battles around the government's attempts to seize his metals factories. "Now we have to move ahead. We have a second chance."

He accused Yulia Tymoshenko, the prime minister President Viktor Yushchenko dismissed along with her government last week, of having waged a personal vendetta against him.

Last month, the Ukrainian government set a $2 billion starting price for a 93.2% stake in Ukraine's largest steel producer, Kryvorizhstal. The mill had been controlled by Pinchuk and another tycoon, Rinat Akhmetov, but a Ukrainian court ruled that its 2003 privatization had been conducted with
numerous violations.

Tymoshenko was accused of intervening to help a minority shareholder gain key management seats after another metals company owned by Pinchuk, Nikopol, was renationalized. Yushchenko described Tymoshenko's alleged mishandling of the Nikopol renationalization as "the last straw" before she was dismissed. She has denied the accusations.

Yushchenko said Tuesday that there would be no more attempts to reopen past privatization deals, a major reversal from the policy promoted by Tymoshenko.

"Private property is untouchable," Yushchenko told journalists. "What happened in Ukraine for the last 13 years is the history of business."
As recently as Monday, Finance Minister Viktor Pinzenyk had said that the government might raise $5 billion from the reprivatization of dozens of enterprises suspected of being sold off under shady circumstances during Kuchma's decade-long rule. Auction dates had already been set for many of
the businesses.

Ukraine's State Property Fund has said that more than 20,000 enterprises were illegally appropriated in Ukraine under Kuchma. But calls to challenge those deals sparked fear among investors and, critics claim, have contributed to the economic stagnation.


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