MINSK: The chief executive of Russian potash giant Uralkali was placed under house arrest Thursday after his release from jail in Belarus.
Dmitry Goryachko, the lawyer of Vladislav Baumgertner, said his client was released, exactly one month since his arrest, and taken to a rented apartment in Minsk under the surveillance of the KGB intelligence agency.
The backdrop to his arrest was Uralkali's decision to pull out of a trading venture with its partner in Belarus in July after it accused the government there of allowing the state-owned business to export potash independently. The withdrawal left Belarusian Potash Co. with virtually no qualified staff and raised fears of a price war.
Potash is a key ingredient in fertilizer, and Uralkali and the Belarusian state-owned business had been exporting the commodity through a jointly-run trading venture since 2005. Together they accounted for about a quarter of the world's potash trade this year, giving them significant influence over global prices.
Belarusian authorities arrested Baumgertner in August on suspicion of "abusing his powers" and issued an arrest warrant for Russian billionaire Suleyman Kerimov who is the company's largest shareholder.
Kerimov is well-known as the owner of Russian football team Anzhi. According to Russian sports website Sports.ru, Anzhi's budget reached $180 million in 2012. Kerimov, estimated to be worth $7.1 billion, pumped money into the team from his native Dagestan after buying the club in 2011, attracting foreign players and coaching talent. But the club announced in August that it will cut its budget to between $50 and $70 million.