MINSK, October 28 (RIA Novosti) – Belarus’ state security service has dismissed as absurd media reports saying it had been keeping tabs on Russian fertilizer giant Uralkali’s executives in Moscow and had tried to detain one of them.
Russian daily Novaya Gazeta reported Monday that Dmitry Samoilov, a former senior manager with Uralkali, was accosted by four men at Moscow’s Leningradsky rail station on Friday while traveling to St. Petersburg. According to the paper, one of the men presented ID showing he was from the Belarus KGB and tried to detain him.
Samoilov shouted for help and managed to get away from the men after Russian police came to his rescue, the paper said.
“The absurdity of those stories is obvious even to a layman,” said Artur Strekh, press secretary of the Belarusian KGB.
Any activity by foreign special services on Russian territory can be ruled out by the high professionalism and efficiency of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), he said.
Strekh recalled that Russia’s Investigative Committee is preparing documents for the extradition of Uralkali’s CEO Vladislav Baumgertner from Belarus to Russia.
“Russia’s investigative agencies have sufficient capabilities to ensure an objective investigation of that criminal case,” he said.
Belarus’ Investigative Committee said earlier in the day the authorities in Minsk had extended a criminal investigation into Baumgertner’s case by another two months.
The Russian CEO was arrested in Minsk on August 26 after Uralkali unexpectedly withdrew from a cooperation agreement with its Belarusian fertilizer production counterpart Belaruskali, causing a steep drop in potash prices and sparking a political row between the two countries. Uralkali claims the charges against Baumgertner are politically motivated.
Russia opened its own criminal investigation into the CEO for abuse of power in mid-October and demanded his extradition – a move some observers think could be a way of returning him to Russia before dropping the charges against him.