MINSK, Belarus (AP) — Belarusian President Alexander Lukashneko says the arrested CEO of Russian potash company Uralkali now faces charges of embezzlement.
Vladislav Baumgertner was jailed in August and put under house arrest a month later, in what appeared to be retaliation for Uralkali's decision to pull out of a trading venture with Belarus. Baumgertner had accused the Belarusian government 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. Lukashenko said Friday that Baumgertner now faces charges of embezzlement, not abuse of power. If convicted he could face 12 years in prison.
Lukashenko also lashed out against Uralkali co-owner Suleyman Kerimov, calling him a "scoundrel" and threatening to lock Uralkali owners in one cell.