ZHLOBIN, September 28 (RIA Novosti) – Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said Saturday the CEO of Russian fertilizer giant Uralkali, who was moved from jail to house arrest in Belarus this week, owes his release from custody to guarantees from his mother.
“He should thank his mother and not Lukashenko, [Russian President Vladimir] Putin or [Russian Prime Minister Dmitry] Medvedev,” the Belarusian leader told journalists Saturday dismissing speculation that the gesture was made prior to this week's meeting between Lukashenko and Putin.
“As you know, Putin and I also met a week ago, and the president of Belarus did not release anyone,” Lukashenko said.
Custody pending trial for Vladislav Baumgertner, who was arrested in Belarus in August, was replaced with house arrest on Thursday. Baumgertner currently lives under round-the-clock surveillance in an apartment picked for him by Belarusian security service officers. His mother, who flew to Minsk Wednesday, has been reportedly allowed to visit him.
Lukashenko said Baumgertner’s mother had sent him a letter three or four days ago, asking him for a milder restrictive measure for her son. “I suppose, his mother is a very kind and good person," the president said. He said however he did not influence the decision to change the restrictive measure for the Uralkali CEO, adding that the Belarusian investigators “had looked into the matter absolutely independently.”
Uralkali, the world’s biggest producer of potash, has been embroiled in a dispute with Belarusian fertilizer giant Belaruskali since July when Uralkali dissolved an international cartel within which the two companies were cooperating. The move sent international fertilizer prices tumbling. In an apparent act of revenge by Minsk, Baumgertner was charged with abuse of power and taken into custody pending trial.
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