MINSK, September 20 (RIA Novosti) – Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has said the CEO of a Russian fertilizer giant could be extradited to Russia as long as his activities are duly investigated – an announcement Moscow welcomed on Friday.
“If Russian investigators are interested in the extradition of Russian citizen [Vladislav] Baumgertner, whom we detained, I see no major obstacles to it,” Lukashenko said Thursday of the Uralkali executive detained last month over a business dispute that has strained relations between Minsk and Moscow.
The Kremlin, in turn, expressed hope that the Belarusian leader's statement would expedite the extradition.
“This process has gotten a bit drawn out,” Russian presidential aide Yuri Ushakov told reporters in Moscow on Friday, but Lukashenko’s words raise hopes “that this issue will be resolved in the near future.”
Baumgertner, who heads the world’s largest potash producer, was detained in Minsk in late August on charges of abuse of office.
Uralkali claimed Baumgertner’s arrest was part of a “politically motivated persecution” related to a commercial battle with its former Belarusian partner, Belaruskali. The move came a month after Uralkali dissolved an international cartel with the Belarusian potash giant, blaming Minsk for selling some of its product outside their agreement.
Lukashenko said that all the documents required for a thorough audit of Uralkali's activities had been handed over to the Russian Audit Chamber.
“By no means should we conceal anything. The damage to Russia was way more serious than to Belarus,” he said.
According to the Belarusian leader, his country must do its best to investigate the dispute jointly with Moscow.
However, he said, Belarus should get compensation for all its losses.
Updated with Kremlin reaction, minor edits throughout.