Svyazinvest won't be privatized before 2006

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MOSCOW, August 24 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian government is not planning to privatize Svyazinvest until at least the first quarter of 2006, an Economic Development and Trade Ministry official said Wednesday.

"The government's stake in the holding will be not be sold before the first quarter of next year," said Yevgeny Mikhailov, the ministry's deputy director of state regulation of tariff and infrastructure reform.

This is consistent with the federal law on privatization, which regulates the procedures and durations of privatization stages, he said.

Mikhailov submitted to the government a set of documents, including a draft directive, to change the laws on telecom operators' obligations to provide services for the defense and security departments.

The set of documents also included a draft law that has been ratified by all relevant government departments, involving changes to the law on telecommunications to serve the interests of law-enforcement agencies, Mikhailov said.

The state will retain a controlling stake in Svyazinvest, allowing it to block decisions by other stakeholders against the government's interests, he said.

"This is a standard corporate governance procedure being used effectively in several countries to protect government interests in the telecommunications sector."

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