UPDATE 2-Russia opens case against potash boss, seeks extradition
The soil nutrient accounts for 12 percent of Belarus’s state revenues and about 10 percent of export income, and the cartel’s demise angered Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko. Belarus said last week that it had started selling potash on its own, but Lukashenko urged the two sides to put the lucrative partnership back together again. The cartel accounted for 40 percent of the world market worth around $20 billion a year. WILL KERIMOV SELL? Baumgertner was initially put in pre-trial detention but later moved to house arrest. Charged with abuse of power and embezzlement, he faces up to 12 years in prison if convicted. Russia’s federal Investigative Committee, which answers to President Vladimir Putin, said it had opened an investigation into Baumgertner on suspicion of abuse of power and would request his extradition. The extradition could save face for Lukashenko, who has said his country could hand over Baumgertner as long as Russia took steps to prosecute him. An extradition would not necessarily lead to a trial, however, and it could reduce pressure on the main owner of Uralkali, Russian billionaire Suleiman Kerimov, to sell his stake so that the cartel can re-form. It would, though, put the asset more firmly in Putin’s hands. There has been intense lobbying by businessmen with past ties to the Russian leader to buy Kerimov’s 21.75 percent stake in Uralkali. With two partners, Kerimov controls a third of the business. Both the Kremlin and Belarus have tried to play down the arrest by suggesting bilateral ties between the Slavic neighbours, allies in Russian-led security and trade groups that are important to Putin, should trump business disputes. But Baumgertner’s return to Russia would remove an irritant in relations and end a situation that critics say is embarrassing for Putin, because it makes him appear powerless to influence even a relatively small and friendly neighbour. Uralkali, which has previously denied Belarus’ accusations against Baumgertner, declined to comment on the Investigative Committee’s statement.
Russia: Police arrest 1,600 migrants after riots
The Investigative Committee, Russia’s main investigative agency, said in a statement that the 25-year-old man was killed in a dispute over his girlfriend as the couple returned home on Thursday. Investigators have questioned witnesses, the statement said. Police released a photograph of the suspect taken by a security camera, but he has not been identified. Russian riot police escort a man detained during mass rioting in the southern Biryulyovo district of Moscow, Oct. 13, 2013. / Getty Video streamed live on Dozhd television showed the unrest in Biryulyovo, a working-class district in far southern Moscow. Hundreds of ethnic Russians were involved in the protests, and some of them chanted nationalist slogans. The city police department called up additional forces to try to quell the violence. Police stepped up patrols throughout the city and moved to close off a square just outside the Kremlin to prevent a repeat of 2010 riots , when thousands of nationalists and soccer fans protested the killing of an ethnic Russian during a fight between soccer fans and natives of the North Caucasus. Riot police detained several people after demonstrators shattered windows at the shopping center. Other demonstrators then threw bottles and trash at the officers to demand the release of those detained, the Interfax news agency reported, citing police. Hundreds of people set off from there for the vegetable warehouse, marching through the streets. Moscow police chief Anatoly Yakunin said during a televised briefing that the demonstrators overturned cars. Helmeted riot police blocked their path, but dozens still managed to break into the warehouse. Police said they detained about 200 people at the warehouse.
Another 450 were detained in north-east Moscow, also near a vegetable market employing migrants. Police said they were all detained to check whether they were involved in any wrongdoing, but they have not been accused of any specific crime. Footage showed detainees standing against walls or lined up in front of camouflage-clad police. By rounding up migrants, authorities seemed to be trying to appease residents who had taken to the streets of the Biryulyovo district to demand police find the killer of Yegor Shcherbakov, 25, and act to prevent crimes by migrants. Migrant labour has played a significant role in Russias transformation during an oil-fuelled boom that took off around the time president Vladimir Putin came to power in 2000. But many in Moscow are uneasy at the influx of migrants from the mainly Muslim North Caucasus and ex-Soviet states of the Caucasus and Central Asia, although many do low-paying jobs, such as in construction, that few local residents want. On Sunday, the mob in the southern neighbourhood fought with police, smashed shops and street stalls and stormed the vegetable market, targeting sites employing migrants. Police arrested at least 380 people as they struggled to quell the violence, which left several people, including officers, injured and shone a spotlight on tension between ethnic Russians and Muslim incomers. Russian authorities frequently carry out raids detaining illegal immigrants but critics say efforts are undermined by police corruption. We must learn to live together and counteract rampant corruption and related attempts to break up our country by exploiting ethnic problems, human rights ombudsman, Vladimir Lukin, told state TV. A group that lobbies for economic migrants in Russia warned of an increased risk of ethnic violence in Moscow. The nationalists are pursuing their political goals.