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#5 - JRL 7271
Revoking Russian privatisations "suicidal"- minister

MOSCOW, July 31 (Reuters) - Unravelling privatisation deals carried out in the 1990s would be "suicidal" for Russia, Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref was quoted as saying on Thursday.

The arrest of a key shareholder in oil major YUKOS, on charges relating to a 1994 privatisation deal, has sparked fears that Russia might seek to review the sale of state assets back in the 1990s which were snapped up cheaply by a handful of entrepreneurs.

"There will be no campaign for reviewing the results of privatisation," Gref said in an interview with Kommersant newspaper.

"This would be suicidal for the state. Today's president (Vladimir Putin) is a man of common sense. These are temporary fluctuations that we have to live through," Gref said commenting on a month-long row which has pitted the business elite against the Kremlin.

Some politicians have urged the government to have a closer look at how Russia's business tycoons made their fortunes.

But government officials have repeatedly sought to reassure investors that the privatisation deals, which revolutionised the post-Soviet economy though often stitched together in murky circumstances, would not be overturned.

Putin has carefully avoided taking sides in the legal standoff with YUKOS which has hit the stock price of the market darling and caused investor fears of capital flight and political instability.

"Personally I am not convinced that the measures taken (by prosecutors against YUKOS) are the best ones, but as a member of cabinet I consider it inapropriate to comment on this topic further," Gref added.

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