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Belarus declares Russian billionaire internationally wanted

September 03, 2013, 11:31 UTC+3

Mr. Kerimov cancelled all his planned foreign trips after getting to know about the accusations

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The Belarusian Investigative Committee has brought charges in absentia and issued an arrest warrant against one of the most influential people in Russia - senator and co-owner of Uralkali company billionaire Suleiman Kerimov, the Novye Izvestia writes. He is accused of power abuse. The Belarusian law prescribes up to ten years' imprisonment for the crime.

The Kommersant cited well-known lawyer Anatoly Kucherena who represents Kerimov’s interests as saying that Mr. Kerimov cancelled all his planned foreign trips after getting to know about the accusations.

On August 26, Uralkali director-general Vladislav Baumgertner was detained in Minsk on the same charges.

The Kommersant notes that the Belarusian investigators believe Uralkali top managers who also held governing posts in the Belarusian Potash Company committed machinations with Belaruskali products in the interests of Kerimov. He is also suspected of gaining profits from the artificially stirred-up crisis on the potassium market, which occurred after the break of relations with the Belarusian partners. The crisis caused a fall of Uralkali shares that were later bought by the Suleiman Kerimov Foundation registered in Switzerland. The Belarusian investigators have estimated damage from the blamed persons' actions to the Belarusian company at $100 million.

The Moskovsky Komsomolets writes that it is not easy to detain Kerimov. He has a "green" passport, and it means that he cannot be arrested in other countries. He may be only detained for a short time until the consul is called and deported to the homeland. A lawyer at the Leontyev and Partners office, Vyacheslav Leontyev confirmed to the daily that Kerimov had a diplomatic passport, and so, there was no risk for him to be arrested in any country. At the same time, Leontyev noted that legal proceedings could be initiated against him in a foreign country, and therefore, the Belarusians did not violate any international agreement.

The Novaya Gazeta notes that Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has no chances in a serious conflict, if things get to the point. Russia accounts for 40% of Belarus's exports, while Belarus accounts for 4.3% of Russia's.

The Russian president's press secretary Dmitry Peskov, commenting on the situation on Monday for the first time, noted "the only thing that can be said is that defense of interests of Russian citizens, including interests of Russia business, is a constant of Russian leaders’ activities."

Sources in business circles said on Monday that the escalation of the conflict around Mr. Kerimov only underscored its purely political aspect. After the harsh statements heard from Moscow on Friday, Minsk could lower the degree of the conflict. But the ignoring of the Russian position and the declaring of Kerimov to be on the international wanted list show that the economic side of the conflict is not on the foreground for the Belarusian authorities, the Kommersant notes.

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