MOSCOW (Reuters) - The head of Russian potash producer Uralkali (URKA.MM), extradited to Russia from Belarus last month, has been moved from a detention center in Moscow to house arrest, the company said on Tuesday.
Vladislav Baumgertner was detained in Minsk in August after Uralkali quit Belarus Potash Co, its cartel joint venture with Belaruskali, the state-run producer in Russia’s ally Belarus, a move which triggered a drop in prices for the fertilizer that infuriated the former Soviet nation’s president, Alexander Lukashenko.
Baumgertner had been charged with abuse of power and embezzlement in Minsk. He was extradited after Russia met Lukashenko’s demand for him to be held and investigated in Russia.
Baumgertner has been moved to house arrest until January 20, Sergey Tsygankov, spokesman for the Moscow department of the Federal Prison Service, told the Interfax news agency.
Officials in Russia and Ukraine have called for re-creation of the trading cartel, which controlled 40 percent of the $20 billion global potash market, but there has been no public progress with the issue.
The main shareholder in Uralkali, Suleiman Kerimov, recently sold a 21.75 percent stake to Russian tycoon-turned-politician Mikhail Prokhorov, while Belarus-born businessman Dmitry Mazepin’s fertilizer firm Uralchem has bought a further 20 percent.
Reporting by Polina Devitt and Natalia Shurmina; Editing by Douglas Busvine and Greg Mahlich