ST. PETERSBURG, Russia, Sept 6 (Reuters) - Russia needs to study all Belarussian claims against potash producer Uralkali before coming to any conclusions, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman said, diminishing the chance of a quick solution to a potash dispute.
The Kremlin’s comments on the issue are much less emphatic than statements by deputies of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, suggesting a split between the Kremlin and Medvedev’s government in their commitment to support Uralkali.
Belarus arrested Uralkali’s head Vladislav Baumgertner last month on suspicion of abusing his position and official powers, and has kept him in jail for nearly two weeks. It also accused Uralkali shareholder Suleiman Kerimov of abuse of power and said it asked Interpol to search for him.
“There are some specific claims against one of Russia’s companies,” Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Reuters in response to a question about Uralkali.
“Russia always defends its business interests, but (Russia‘s) appropriate authorities should receive all information needed before saying anything.”
The comments were less harsh than those of Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov and Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich, who have called the detention of Vladislav Baumgertner, CEO of the world’s top potash producer, “inappropriate” and “not acceptable”.
Baumgertner was detained on Aug. 26 while visiting Minsk at the invitation of its prime minister, Mikhail Myasnikovich. His arrest escalated a trade feud sparked in late July when Uralkali pulled out of Belarus Potash Co (BPC), its trading joint venture with Belarus state potash producer Belaruskali.
“It is impossible to say anything without detailed understanding of what’s going on,” Peskov said.
He added that Russian law enforcement agencies should work with Belarussian colleagues on the issue and that it was too early to say anything while information exchange continues.
Belarus has been run since 1994 by President Alexander Lukashenko, who styles himself as “Europe’s last dictator”.