ISD major shareholder named head of Ukraine’s main steel region

Sergey Taruta, the major shareholder in Ukraine’s Industrial Union of Donbass (ISD), has been appointed head of administration for the Donetsk region, where most of the country’s steel is made.

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Taruta, who holds a 49.99% stake in ISD together with compatriot entrepreneur Oleg Mkrtchan, was appointed to the post by Ukraine’s acting president Olexander Turchinov in a decree posted on the president’s website on Sunday March 2.

The appointment is a part of the Ukrainian interim government’s bid to replace regional leaders loyal to ousted pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovich.

ISD has its headquarters in Donetsk, while its production assets are in the Lugansk and Dnepropetrovsk regions.

Metinvest, Ukraine’s largest steelmaker, has all its Ukrainian mills in the Donetsk region, while Donetsk Electrometallurgical Plant (DEMZ) and Elektrostal are also based there.

Taruta has called for a peaceful resolution of the stand-off between Russian and Ukrainian troops in the country’s southern Crimea region, as Metinvest owner Rinat Akhmetov did earlier.

Russian president Vladimir Putin, on Tuesday March 4, defended Russia’s alleged right to send troops into Ukraine to protect Russian-speaking compatriots living in “terror”, but said he would only use force as a last resort, Reuters reported.

Putin denied that Russian troops had seized the Crimea region, where armed men, with no insignia but bearing all the characteristics of Russian origins, have taken control of all official buildings and some military bases, Reuters said.

The instability in the region is a problem for ISD, which exports some of its steel products through the Crimean port of Sevastopol, market sources have said.

The steelmaker exports square and round billet, structural steel, slab, plate and hot rolled sheet.