•Ukraine is celebrating the launch of an EU assistance project in which advisers from Austria and Lithuania will collaborate with the Ukrainian Ombudsman's Office to work according to European best practices. A press conference and opening ceremony are scheduled for today. For more information, call Aliona Vyghonska at +380 44-253-21-54 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
•Germany's Commerzbank on Thursday froze $17 million of Privat Bank's money, Novoe Vremya reported. A spokesman for the recently nationalized bank said there was no cause for the freeze and the government is looking into the situation.
•Investor-backed solar power plants are expected to be built in the Kherson, Odesa and Kharkiv regions this year, Ukrinform reported, citing Stolychna Nerukhomist. The three plants will have a combined generating capacity of almost 37 megawatts.
•Ukrainian custom software developer Luxoft, the country's No. 3 IT outsourcer by number of programmers, acquired engineering consultancy IntroPro. Luxoft said the move will broaden its offerings to wireless, cable and satellite providers. Also, American investment firm Morgan Stanley acquired 7 percent of the shares of Luxoft.
•The European Commission advised Ukraine not to wait for the signing of the comprehensive Open Skies Treaty with the European Union but instead to negotiate bilaterally with individual EU member states, Infrastructure Minister Vladimir Omelian said on Ukrainian television, according to a Unian report. He said the bilateral negotiations are running on a parallel track and not harming the Open Skies pact, which Ukraine expects to sign with the EU this year.
•Ukraine's treasury resumed VAT refund processing Wednesday, addressing existing refund applications that amount to more than $80 million, according to Interfax Ukraine. Government budget revenues for January came in 39 percent higher than the targeted amount, and the lack of VAT reimbursement that month played a main role in the surplus.
•Ukraine will have 15 companies representing it in Nuremberg, Germany at the Biofach global trade fair for organic food, Ukrinform reported. The Ukrainian products to be pitched at the trade fair include cereal grains, oil crops, wild and cultivated berries and seeds.
•The government issued a special license to two companies controlled by Ukrainian tycoon Viktor Pinchuk authorizing development of oil and gas fields in the Kharkiv and Chernihiv regions, Interfax Ukraine reported. The licenses, for the Mirolyubivske and Prachivska petroleum fields, are good for 20 years.
•Ukraine imported nearly 60 percent more gas in January than it did during the same month the previous year, Unian reported. The bulk of the imported gas came from Slovakia, while Hungary and Poland contributed significantly smaller amounts. Ukrtransgaz said the country has not imported any gas from Russia for 433 days.
•An IMF requirement that Ukraine pass a law deregulating the alcoholic beverage market could accelerate the privatization of state-run Ukrspyrt, Interfax Ukraine quoted Agriculture Minister Taras Kutovy as saying. He said a Ukrspyrt privatization bill has been put on the Rada agenda several times but never received more than 200 votes.
•Europeans' growing demand for salt products is translating into business for the state-owned company Artemsil. It announced the restart of deliveries to Hungary and Slovakia, multiple sources reported. January production at the company was 30 percent more than scheduled.
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