KIEV, April 30 Ukraine's richest man, Rinat
Akhmetov, said on Wednesday he had no plans to sell his
businesses in the country's industrial east and his faith was
unshaken in a region increasingly in the hands of pro-Russian
The 47-year-old tycoon said he would continue to invest in
Ukraine, which must find a way to unite again as rebels seized
more buildings across the Donbass coal and steel belt around the
eastern Donetsk and Luhansk.
Most of Akhmetov's Ukrainian business empire, which runs
from steel and metals to media and telecoms, is based in the
Donbass area, where members of the self-declared "People's
Republic of Donetsk" have called for a referendum on
independence on May 11.
"I am not selling my business nor am I going to leave
Ukraine. Today I am in Donbass," he said in a statement,
referring to the region that encompasses much of eastern
"My position is firm - our country must be united. And I
will be doing everything I can to ensure that Donbass and
Ukraine are together. With belief in Donbass and in Ukraine I am
investing and will continue to invest in my country."
Akhmetov, a Donetsk native, has tried to help negotiate an
end to the stand-off in eastern Ukraine, talking to the rebels -
even sympathising with some of their demands - while urging
law-enforcement agencies to stay their hand in using force.
Commentators say Akhmetov, whose fortune is estimated by
Forbes magazine at $11.4 billion, is trying to use the crisis to
re-position himself and protect his huge business concerns after
ally President Viktor Yanukovich was toppled in February.
(reporting by Elizabeth Piper; editing by Giles Elgood)