Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko said he wants to reshape the country's coal industry and offer the impoverished state-run coal mines to private owners, the president's office said Tuesday.
Yushchenko said that in a bid to improve the industry's effectiveness, he had ordered Coal Industry Minister Viktor Topolov to "radically change management policy" within a year, according to a statement posted on Yushchenko's Web site.
"(Private) business will introduce order ... Unlike in Russia and other countries, we have no privately owned coal mines," Yushchenko is quoted as saying by the AP.
The Ukrainian coal industry is plagued by lack of funds and its coal mines are among the world's most dangerous. Since the 1991 Soviet collapse, nearly 4,300 miners have died in Ukrainian coal mines.
An explosion of household gas occurred in a nine-storeyed apartment building in the city of Shakhty, the Rostov region of Russia. The blast destroyed two storeys of the building