MINSK, September 26 (RIA Novosti) – Custody pending trial for the CEO of Russian fertilizer giant Uralkali, who was arrested in Belarus in August, has been replaced with house arrest, his lawyer said Thursday.
“The measure of restraint for Vladislav Baumgertner, arrested in Minsk, was suddenly changed this night. He was placed under house arrest,” lawyer Alexei Basistov told RIA Novosti.
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.
According to Basistov, 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.
Minsk is also pressing Russia to extradite billionaire Suleiman Kerimov, Uralkali’s largest shareholder, to Belarus, where he also faces charges of abuse of power.
In a possible path to resolving the conflict, Lukashenko said last week Baumgertner could be extradited to Moscow if Russian authorities undertook to investigate the Belarusian claims against him.