Belarus’ General Prosecutor’s Office has decided to extradite Uralkali CEO Vladislav Baumgertner to Russia.
As Russia’s General Prosecutor’s Office reports, Baumgertner’s case will be turned over to the Investigation Committee. Charged with abuse of office and creation of a criminal organisation, the top manager may face up to 10 years of imprisonment.
It is curious that fairly recently Onexim, an investment firm which belongs to Russian tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov, announced its intention to buy 21.75 percent of Uralkali from its major stockholder, billionaire Suleiman Kerimov.
Earlier the Belarusian President stated that Mr Baumgertner might be released. ‘I am not blood-thirsty. I don’t say that we must jail them. May he compensate these losses until we have more. If he sets off losses we will do our best to deliver beloved-of-all Baumgertner,’ Aliaksandr Lukashenka said during a press conference for journalists representing CIS countries.
At that, President Lukashenka called Baumgertner ‘a snotty boy’ and made an attempt to assure Russian journalists that the case would not poison relations between Belarus and Russia. ‘During our meeting with Putin I told him there was no point marring our government-to-government and personal relations because of some Baumgertner and Kerimov,’ he said.
‘You may put him into a cell in Butyrka,’ he said, referring to a Moscow jail. ‘You may conduct your own investigation. We will help you.‘
Vladislav Baumgertner, director general of Russian potash company Uralkali and chairman of the supervisory board of Belarusian Potash Company (BPC), was handcuffed at the National airport of Belarus on August 26, 2013. As Mr Baumgertner was in Minsk on the personal invitation of Belarusian Prime Minister Mikhail Miasnikovich the arrest immediately escalated into an international scandal. At first he was accused of abuse of office under Article 424 of the Belarusian Criminal Code and put to ‘Amerykanka’, the KGB predetention centre. He was moved from the detention center of the Committee for State Security (KGB) to a rented apartment in Minsk on the night between September 25 and 26. On October 4 the Investigation Committee reported that Baumgertner’s charge was modified having taken into account new data and facts discovered.
The criminal case was apparently linked to Uralkali’s July, 30 decision to stop exports through BPC, its joint trader with Belaruskali. Uralkali’s board decided on July, 29 that the company would export its fertilizers exclusively through a subsidiary trader called Uralkali Trading.
According to the official data, ‘unlawful acts performed by Baumgertner and a number of other top managers have resulted in up to $100 loss suffered by Belaruskaliy and BPC’. The amount of damage might rise significantly, Pavel Traulka, spokesman for the Investigative Committee, said.