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Putin, Lukashenko to discuss Uralkali situation in Minsk

October 23, 2013, 10:32 UTC+3
The meeting of the two countries’ leaders was planned within the framework of Putin’s participation in a session of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council
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Photo ITAR-TASS/Alexei Druzhinin

Photo ITAR-TASS/Alexei Druzhinin

MOSCOW, October 23 (Itar-Tass) — The Presidents of Russia and Belarus, Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko, at a bilateral meeting in Minsk on October 24 will discuss the situation around Uralkali CEO Vladislav Baumgertner, Russian presidential aide Yuri Ushakov told reporters.

He said that the meeting of the two countries’ leaders was planned within the framework of Putin’s participation in a session of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council. “We expect the meeting to be substantial,” Ushakov said.

Answering a question whether the situation surrounding the arrest of Baumgertner would be discussed in a bilateral format, he said: “The the law enforcement agencies are currently coming into close contact with each other, the Prosecutor General’s Office is working. There is also a close daily contact. It is possible that during the conversation this issue will be raised, among others. It was actually discussed in a telephone conversation.”

After Uralkali on July 30 announced the termination of export sales through Belarusian Potash Company (BPC) — a JV of the company and the Belarusian state fertilizer producer Belaruskali — Baumgertner was detained in Minsk arrested on August 26 on the results of negotiations with Belarusian Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich. He was taken into custody within the investigation of criminal cases opened by the Belarusian Prosecutor General’s Office. Later, Baumgertner placed under house arrest, and the prosecution changed the charges from “abuse of power and office” to “embezzlement.”

Meanwhile, the Russian Investigative Committee intends to request Baumgertner’s extradition to Russia where he, together with BPC first deputy head Konstantin Solodovnikov is suspected of abuse of power, causing major damage to Belarusian Potash Company and Belaruskali. A Moscow court in absentia issued an arrest warrant for the businessman.

Alexander Lukashenko stated at a meeting with the heads of mass media of the CIS countries that Belarus might extradite the Uralkali head to the Russian Federation after the damage, which he estimates at $1.5-2 billion, is compensated to Minsk. According to the Belarusian leader, Russia has also suffered damage amounting to about $3 billion. Lukashenko noted that Minsk was seeking “to close this topic as soon as possible and punish the perpetrators.”

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