Ukraine's TV Network BTB to Be Turned Into a Public Station

 AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky

The Ukrainian TV network BTB, owned by tycoon and former deputy prime minister Sergei Arbuzov, an ally of ousted president Viktor Yanukovych, is to be nationalized and turned into a public station.

Ukraine's National Bank, which currently manages BTB, a station focused on banking and finances, said in a press release that it plans to transfer the asset to the state-run TV and radio corporation to be used as a basis for a new public TV network.

Meanwhile, presidential candidate Yulia Timoshenko addressed the Ukrainian parliament, Rada, calling on the deputies to promptly adopt a law on a public television network.

"The assets of BTB, which was formed by Arbuzov to boost his own image, will be transferred to the public TV network as soon as it is formed," she said in a statement. "Currently, the National Bank is studying the legal aspects of transferring the property."

The National Bank said that the station is currently being audited.

Arbuzov, whom Ukrainian media used to refer to as a possible successor for Yanukovych, created the network at a time when he headed the National Bank. He left the country in late February, after the ouster of Yanukovych following street protests in Ukraine's capital, Kiev.

His current whereabouts are unknown. However, unlike several other tycoons linked to the ousted regime, he is not facing any criminal charges, in Ukraine or abroad.

While a presidential vote in Ukraine is scheduled for May 25, the country is currently facing a new wave of unrest, this time in its eastern regions with a predominantly Russian-speaking population.

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