ST. PETERSBURG, Russia, Sept 6 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".