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Identity crisis for the oligarchs

Leonid Kuchma, president of
Ukraine, is not allowed to 
run for a third term. The
oligarchs must decide on a
strategy for a post-Kuchma
Ukraine after the October

To integrate or not is the question facing Ukraine?s powerful oligarchs in the last months of president Leonid Kuchma?s 10-years in power.

In Ukraine as in Russia, the fall of the Soviet Union led to the rise of a few powerful businessmen who control large parts of the economy. Three of the most powerful are Rinat Akhmetov, who owns metallurgy companies and Shakhtar Donetsk football club; Viktor Pinchuk, Kuchma?s son-in-law, who owns pipe company Interpipe, newspapers and TV channels; and Viktor Medvedchuk, head of the presidential administration and boss of a large business empire that includes football club Dinamo Kiev.

All three recently figured high in a list of the richest men in central and eastern Europe compiled by Polish magazine Wprost. Akhmetov was sixth with $1.7 billion, Pinchuk 10th with $1.3 billion and Medvedchuk 18th with $800 million.

All three have done well through the Kuchma regime, which has allowed them to flourish much as Russia?s oligarchs did under former president Boris Yeltsin.

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