Updated at 18:18,16-07-2018

Uralkali`s security service guarding its managers to prevent arrest by KGB


The security service of Russia`s potash giant Uralkali has posted guards to prevent the arrest of its managers by the Committee for State Security (KGB) of Belarus, reported the Russian newspaper Izvestiya with reference to an anonymous source.

The three managers in question, Konstantin Solodovnikov, Igor Yevstratov and Dmitry Samoilov, combined their duties in Uralkali and Belarusian Potash Company (BPC), its joint trading arm with Belarus` Belaruskali. The Investigative Committee of Belarus has instituted criminal proceedings against them in a case linked to Uralkali`s decision to quit BPC.

According to Izvestiya, Messrs. Solodovnikov, Yevstratov and Samoilov, who hold a Russian citizenship and live in Moscow, have recently noticed unknown men watching their houses from cars parked on the streets and following them when they travel in their own vehicles.

"These people do not try very hard to keep a low profile, as if they feel their impunity," a source told Izvestiya. "When they are approached with questions and asked to introduce themselves, they show their KGB IDs. [Uralkali`s] security service already knows all of them in person."

The security service did not report what was going on to Russian state security agencies but posted its own guards to protect Uralkali managers, Izvestiya said.

The source confirmed that KGB officers had attempted to arrest Mr. Samoilov in Moscow on October 25 as he was boarding a train for St. Petersburg. Mr. Samoilov offered resistance, attracting the attention of police officers who told the man and the KGB officers to follow them to a police station.

Although the officers produced a Belarusian arrest warrant for Mr. Samoilov, they were told by Russian police officers that they had no right to apprehend the manager in Russia. They were reportedly advised not to repeat their attempts to make arrests outside Belarus. When reached by Izvestiya, the Moscow police said that they could not confirm the report.

Minsk claims that the collapse of the Belarusian-Russian potash sales alliance has caused severe economic damage to Belarus.

On August 26, Uralkali CEO Vladislav Baumgertner was arrested as he was about to fly out of Minsk after a meeting with Belarusian Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich.

The Investigative Committee of Belarus announced after the arrest that Mr. Baumgertner, who chaired the supervisory board of BPC, was suspected of abuse of office and so were four other Russian executives who combined their duties in BPC and Uralkali. They include Mr. Solodovnikov, first deputy director general of BPC, Mr. Yevstratov, deputy director general, Mr. Samoilov, head of the freight department, and Oleg Petrov, a member of BPC`s supervisory board.

A few days later, Belarusian authorities instituted criminal proceedings against Russian billionaire and Uralkali`s top shareholder Suleiman Kerimov. Mr. Lukashenka revealed earlier this month that the charge against Mr. Baumgertner had been changed from abuse of office to embezzlement.