The employees of Uralkali have made an appeal to the Belorussian President, Aleksandr Lukashenko regarding the detention of Uralkali CEO Vladislav Baumgertner. In a September 26th letter to Lukashenko, workers at Russia's Uralkali had hoped to influence Belarus to release Baumgertner by forwarding a petition, and Belarus has responded.
The return correspondence, signed by Stanislav Buko, the Head of the Chief Department for Appeals of Citizens and Legal Entities of the Administration of the President of the Republic of Belarus noted simply that, "the collective appeal to the Belorussian President had been considered," according to a press release today.
While this does not mark any tangible progress toward Baumgertner's release, a response to such a petition suggests Lukashenko is doing more than just considering Baumgertner's release. Export sanctions from Russia have threatened to take a chunk out of Belarus' already lagging export revenue, which relied heavily on potash sendouts for government cash flow. Since the breakup of BPC, potash revenues have declined dramatically from accounting for up to 12% of the nation's export returns.
While part of the joint venture BPC, Uralkali has been said to have been behind the personal side of the export racket while Belarus stayed on the sidelines in negotiations. The return correspondence suggests Belarus has been working on its people skills and may be willing to play nice with Russia on Baumgertner.
It may also be that Lukashenko has realized he is in a losing battle with Russia holding all of the cards. Moscow has opened its own criminal investigation, aimed at appeasing Belorussian authorities as much as the pursuit of justice. The chess match continues in the Former Soviet Union but as Uralkali's pawns line up against Lukashenko's back row, the King has heard from the opposing pawns, and answered as kindly as one could expect by saying the peoples' request had been considered.
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