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Russian Federation Council member slams detention of Uralkali CEO in Belarus

August 28, 2013, 11:06 UTC+3

Mikhail Margelov: "It's not decent; this is no way to act even in the countries which are not members of union state with Russia"

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Mikhail Margelov, Photo ITAR-TASS/Yuri Belinsky

Mikhail Margelov, Photo ITAR-TASS/Yuri Belinsky

MOSCOW, August 28 (Itar-Tass) - Chairman of the Committee on International Affairs under the Federation Council upper house of the Russian parliament Mikhail Margelov called for immediate release of Uralkali CEO Vladislav Baumgertner detained in Belarus and amicable settlement of the company's business issues.

"Belarus has violated the elementary rules of decorum... irked by results of the business talks which did not suit it," Margelov said in an interview to Itar-Tass on Wednesday. "It's not decent; this is no way to act even in the countries which are not members of union state with Russia."

He said he was surprised at the Belarusian authorities' resolving the potash market-related issues by such simplistic methods, i.e. by arresting the stubborn negotiator. "Apparently they could find no other arguments which would be expected in business," he said.

"I believe potash sale issues can be resolved amicably especially if the Belarusian authorities put the potash market on the list of state and public interests of Belarus," the FC member said. "In following these interests, it is necessary to immediately set Baumgertner free and settle the matter amicably."

Uralkali CEO Vladislav Baumgеrtner was detained in Minsk on Monday. The Belarusian authorities accuse him of misuse of 100 million dollars and said they would check the activity of the key company owner, Suleiman Kerimov, whose fund has a 21.75% stake in Uralkali.

The Belarusian Investigative Committee said Baumgеrtner had been arrested on the strength of evidence about company top managers' abuse of office powers. It caused damage to the state and public interests of Belarus, as well as to Belaruskali and the Belarusian Potash Company.

Belarusian investigators said Interpol had issued wanted notices for four top managers of the Belarusian Potash Company: Board member Oleg Petrov, First Deputy CEO Konstantin Solodovnikov, Deputy CEO for Financial Affairs Igor Yevstratov and head of the freight department, Dmitry Samoilov.

On Tuesday, Belarusian prosecutors promised to check Baumgertner's detention, following a 20-minute meeting with Russian envoy to Belarus Alexander Surkov.

Also on Tuesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry invited Belarusian ambassador to Russia Igor Petrishenko to a meeting with State Secretary and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Grigory Karasin to discuss the Baumgertner affair.

"Russia stated that the detention of the businessman, who was in Belarus at the invitation of the republic's prime minister for the solution of important issues of Russian-Belarusian economic interaction, was inadmissible," a Russian diplomat told Itar-Tass after the meeting.

First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said the Russian government believed that the detention of Baumgertner in Minsk was an unfriendly move. What happened is absolutely inappropriate. "We believe it's an odd situation given the nature of our cooperation. We regard it as absolutely strange, inadequate and not partner-like," he said.

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