BELARUS

Belarus arrests head of Russian potash giant

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 August, 2013, 4:06am
AFP

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Belarus yesterday arrested the chief executive of Russian potash giant Uralkali for alleged abuse of authority, detaining him at Minsk airport hours after he had held talks with the Belarussian prime minister.

The extraordinary arrest of Vladislav Baumgertner in the capital Minsk came three weeks after Uralkali severed links with its Belarussian partner Belaruskali, triggering a crash in the prices of global manufacturers of the fertiliser.

"He has been accused of abusing authority or power. He has been placed under custody," Belarussian Investigative Committee spokesman Pavel Taraulko said, without giving further details.

Under this charge, Baumgertner could face three to 10 years in jail.

The Belarussian Investigative Committee said it was also investigating Suleiman Kerimov, the billionaire owner of Russian premier league team Anzhi Makhachkala and a major Uralkali shareholder, for unlawful activities.

Four other managers at Uralkali have also been put on a wanted list by the Belarussian Investigative Committee. But they are currently all believed to be in Moscow.

Uralkali spokesman Alexander Babinsky said that Baumgertner had held a meeting with Belarussian Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich and he was then detained at Minsk airport on departure.

"Such actions are unacceptable," Babinsky said in comments broadcast by Russian state television.

"The chief executive was in Minsk at the personal invitation of the prime minister. Vladislav Baumgertner had met the prime minister today and afterwards on departure at Minsk airport he was arrested."

The Interfax news agency said the Russian embassy in Minsk had sent a note to the Belarussian foreign ministry requesting a meeting with Vladislav Baumgertner.