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Belarus Files Criminal Charges Against Russian Potash Executive

Uralkali CEO Vladislav Baumgertner
Uralkali CEO Vladislav Baumgertner
Belarusian investigators have filed criminal charges against the general director of Russia's Uralkali potash-producing company, Vladislav Baumgertner.

A Belarusian Investigative Committee spokesman said on August 30 that financial records of the Belarusian Potash Company (BKK) -- a now-defunct joint venture between Uralkali and a Belarusian potash firm, Belaruskali, are being checked.

Belarusian authorities detained Baumgertner, who was BKK's chairman, on August 26.

Baumgertner's announcement in July that Uralkali was leaving BKK led to a steep drop in the commodity's price, affecting the Belarusian economy.

On August 30, Baumgertner's lawyer said his client was officially charged with the abuse of authority.

Russian Embassy officials in Minsk met with Baumgertner on the same day and said he's tired but doing well.

If found guilty, Baumgertner could face up to 10 years in prison.

The executive's detention has sparked tensions between Moscow and Minsk.

Potash is the name given to various salts that contain potassium. It has a number of industrial applications, but is primarily used in the production of fertilizers.

Russia Bans Belarusian Pork Imports

Meanwhile, with relations between the two countries strained over the Uralkali case, Russia has temporarily banned the import of live hogs and pork products from Belarus.

Aleksei Saurin, the deputy chief of Russia's agricultural watchdog, Rosselkhoznadzor, said on August 30 that the ban is effective immediately because cases of African swine fever have been detected in Belarus.

On August 29, Russia's state-controlled Transneft pipeline company announced about 20 percent cut of oil exports to Belarus.

On the same day, the chief of Russia's sanitary service, Rospotrebnadzor, Gennady Onishchenko, expressed concern over the quality and sanitary condition of dairy products imported from Belarus.

Based on reporting by Belapan, RIA Novosti, and Interfax

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