UPDATE 4-Russia-Belarus potash dispute ignites diplomatic row

Tue Aug 27, 2013 11:06am EDT
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* CEO of Russia's Uralkali held in Minsk

* Russia summons ambassador, warns of impact on ties

* Collapse of Russia-Belarus cartel shakes $20 bln potash market

* Fertiliser buyers, competitors benefit from bust-up

By Douglas Busvine and Andrei Makhovsky

MOSCOW/MINSK, Aug 27 (Reuters) - Russia demanded on Tuesday the release of the head of Russian company Uralkali, whose arrest in Belarus threatens to turn a business dispute that shook the $20-billion global potash market into a major diplomatic row.

Vladislav Baumgertner, chief executive of the world's largest potash producer, was detained on Monday at the airport of the Belarusian capital Minsk after being invited to secret talks with Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich.

Television footage released by the Belarusian Investigative Committee, the former Soviet republic's top crime-fighting agency, showed Baumgertner being searched, his legs spread and hands against a wall. He was later pictured handcuffed.

President Alexander Lukashenko appears to have taken it as a personal affront when Uralkali quit a cartel last month with a Belarusian state firm producing potash, a fertiliser ingredient.   Continued...