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Ukraine starts controversial sell-off of Odessa plant

KIEV, Sept 29 (Reuters) - Ukraine’s privatisation agency opened a public auction on Tuesday of the Odessa Port chemical plant despite a presidential decree banning the sale. The privatisation, from which the government of Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko hopes to earn at least $500 million, would be the largest in the country since 2005 and bring vital funds into the stretched state budget.

But President Viktor Yushchenko, Tymoshenko’s political rival, issued a decree on Sept. 17 banning the sale and the status of Tuesday’s auction appeared to be legally ambiguous. (Editing by Mike Peacock)

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