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Moscow Concerned Over Belarus Arrest


Uralkali head Vladislav Baumgertner (file photo)
Uralkali head Vladislav Baumgertner (file photo)
Russia is expressing concern over the arrest in Belarus of Vladislav Baumgertner, the general director of Russia's Uralkali potash-producing giant.

Russia's First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said in Moscow that his government considered the detention an unfriendly gesture.

A Belarusian Investigative Committee spokesman told journalists on August 26 that Baumgertner had been charged with abuse of office.

Four of his associates, who are also suspected of abuse of office, have been added to a wanted list by Belarus.

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

Baumgertner was the chairman of the Belarusian Potash Company (BKK), a now-defunct joint venture between Uralkali and a Belarusian potash firm, Belaruskali.

Baumgernter announced that Uralkali was leaving BKK in July, which led to a sharp drop in share prices for potash companies around the world.

Uralkali's press service confirmed to RFE/RL that Baumgertner was arrested in Minsk after meeting with the Belarusian prime minister, but refused to comment further.

Based on reporting by ITAR-TASS and RFE/RL's Belarus Service

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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