Putin, Kuchma To Attend Business Forum In Kharkov

Kharkov, which is a large eastern Ukrainian city, is to host a two-day business forum starting December 13. President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation and President Leonid Kuchma of Ukraine will also attend this forum, RIA-NOVOSTI learned at the press center of the Russian League of Industrialists and Businessmen. The official opening ceremony will take place at the grand hall of Kharkov's national law academy. The Russian League of Industrialists and Businessmen will be represented at the forum by its president Arkady Volsky and bureau members, e.g. well-known tycoons Oleg Deripaska, who heads the Siberian Aluminium company, Oleg Kiselev (Metallo-Invest), Boris Titov (Azot -- Nitrogen) and Yury Tokarev (Kran-Ex). Forum delegates intend to examine key aspects of bilateral cooperation, including those specific problems, which impede business-like ties. Six round-table discussions involving more than 400 Russian and Ukrainian businessmen, as well as representatives of institutions of state authority, will be organized. The results of such opinion exchanges will be heard by a plenary session on Friday. The Russian delegation will also comprise deputy ministers representing the Ministry of Finance, the Foreign Ministry, the Defense Ministry, the Industry, Science and Technology Ministry, the Energy Ministry, as well as chief executive officers of such big-league corporations as RAO UES (Unified Energy Systems), Gazprom, Siberian Aluminium and the Tyumen Oil Company. The national leagues of industrialists and businessmen would be expected to sign a cooperation agreement, after the forum winds up. Bilateral fuel-and-energy cooperation will also be discussed. RAO UES, as well as Gazprom and Russian oil companies, are quite interested in helping privatize Ukrainian fuel-and-energy enterprises. President Leonid Kuchma of Ukraine said the other day that the relevant pre-requisites for transparent and open privatization had already been created. Kuchma called on investors to take part in the privatization of Ukrainian legal entities, fuel-and-energy enterprises, in the first place. According to Kuchma, the Ukrainian side's cooperation with Gazprom and other Russian and Western energy companies will make it possible to create favorable pre-requisites for forging a common gas-and-electricity market. Some persisting sectoral problems have something to do with Ukrainian debts being owed for Russian fuel-and-energy resources, e.g. natural gas and electricity. Russian gas transits via Ukrainian territory also tend to cause some problems. All these issues will apparently be examined during the current business forum.

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