Aleksandr Lukashenko holds session on current economic and foreign policy matters
“Those, who expected the potash problems to undermine relations of the two states, misplaced their expectations. We believed and still believe that no swindlers will manage to put a wedge between the two presidents and the nations,” the head of state said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko reminded that in 2005 the Belarusian side agreed with the proposal of the Russian partner and a joint sales company involving Uralkali was set up. “The owner was different back then and together we achieved colossal breakthrough results,” the President remarked.
According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, in the best years Belaruskali generated nearly $3.5 billion in forex earnings. Uralkali earned even more than that because the Russian company sold more via the joint trader and via its own channels.
The head of state also informed about consequent events and in particular the replacement of the owner in Uralkali. “I was privy to those proceedings thanks to Uralkali’s previous owner Dmitry Rybolovlev. The asset was just taken away from him and was handed over upon the insistence of certain people (may Russia investigate how it was done if they are interested in it) to new owners, who, it was clear, were not going to put efforts into manufacturing and selling potash fertilizers. They just wanted to play the market and earn an extra billion US dollars for themselves by doing it”.
“You and I often wondered why the seemingly successful enterprise Uralkali and our ones had to be brought low? Their own quotes and profits tumbled. I cannot but conclude that the outward success of Uralkali's owners covered most serious problems. From all appearances they had been managing to cover up the problems by shuffling financial reports. In essence they had been borrowing more and more. And Uralkali’s manufacturing side is one large problem: mines are flooded, the town is sagging, they have to resettle people,” the President noted.
“The cheaters definitely couldn’t keep their heads above the water. I’ve seen reports that they have a deficit of $12 billion and a surplus of only $2 billion. If it is so, it turns out that the information they have distributed across the world is nothing but lies. Uralkali is a public company, which shares are traded at the London and Moscow exchanges. The distribution of false reports and information by such a company represents a case of international fraud,” the Belarusian leader remarked.
The head of state underlined that in accordance with any laws either Belarusian or Russian or Western ones, it is a crime. As an example he referred to the scandal regarding the USA energy giant Enron. Investors were swindled out of colossal sums back then. “So it was more and more difficult for Uralkali owners to hide their problems. And it seems that these stock exchange schemers tried to solve their problems at the expense of Belaruskali. They wanted to plunder the Belarusian enterprise, raise their own capitalization and resolve all the problems in one go,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
The head of state reminded about attempts to bribe the Belarusian side into selling Belaruskali at half the price. “We acted very roughly in that situation and the practice was scrapped. Then they plunged the market for the same goal – to bring Belaruskali down to its knees,” the President noted.
The Belarus President is convinced that the scandal had been designed as a kind of a smokescreen. “There was no other way out. Because sooner or later, I drew your attention to the London stock exchange, they would have had to present reports and the real state of affairs at the enterprise would have been examined. And the enterprise is bankrupt and I dare anyone to challenge this statement,” the head of state said.
The President said that he had instructed relevant agencies to contact the London stock exchange and the Moscow stock exchange to notify them about what is going on: “Whether they want to verify reports or not, it is up to them to decide, but it seems to me that after receiving this information, the London stock exchange will be shocked”.
“Because the smokescreen was needed to bring down the market, to hide their own problems, which in essence had emerged a long time before that. It may have been the central goal of the scheme,” the head of state believes. “I have no doubt that it is a fraud. Russian mass media reported that before plunging the market the swindlers insured their actions for exactly $100 million. It means they were making preparations, some shareholders sold their stock virtually three days before the complete downfall at a more or less high price. Why?” the Belarusian head of state wondered .
Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized that all the signs of Uralkali’s bankruptcy are visible, huge loans and debts with nothing to repay them with in addition to excessive and unjustified expenses. “Our auditors, law enforcement agencies should work together with the Russians to clarify things. It is possible to find the real origin of the entire dark history only in Russia,” the President believes.
This is why the head of state gave instructions to hand over all the necessary materials, including investigation data, which should become the foundation for an audit by the Chamber of Accounts of Russia. “As far as I know they have also contacted the State Control Committee for us to share the relevant materials and carry out this audit together,” remarked the President. He instructed Chairman of the State Control Committee Alexander Yakobson to contact the Russian side and work together with them without hiding anything.
Aleksandr Lukashenko reminded that the Prosecutor General’s Office of Russia had sent a request for cooperation in investigating the potash case, too. “Don’t hide anything. Everything they ask for should be shared with our colleagues in the Russian Federation,” the President said.
“You and I know perfectly well that these swindlers are a pain not only in Belarus but even more so for law enforcement agencies in Russia. Therefore, the information we will share and our joint work with them will only benefit our common cause,” the Belarusian leader is convinced.
“If Russian investigators are interested in the extradition of the detained [Vladislav Baumgertner], I don’t see any special problems with it. We can absolutely let him be extradited. If they truly investigate the case in fairness to the law and the damage is colossal on the Russian side, it is visible with the naked eye. Therefore, if the need arises, we will not impede extradition. We have to do everything in order to research the conflict together with the Russians and what is behind it. And there is a huge pile of money behind it that Belarus and Russia have lost and there are highly placed swindlers in the Russian Federation behind it, too,” the President stated.
“If some emerge in Belarus and the Russians would want them [extradited] in Russia, we will not hold on to the citizens of Belarus, we will immediately deliver them to you. Truth is the key thing, we don’t need any blind spots. If you are guilty, you must face punishment. No swindler should be a hindrance in relations of two nations,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed.
“Let’s think what we should do from now on. Today two variants are possible,” the President stated.
According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, a civilized divorce is one of the variants. “We are ready for it, but it should be done in a civilized manner. If they want to leave, they may, we don’t want them interfering with our operation here. If they want to work independently, it is their right, we cannot force them. I mean the owners of Uralkali. We force no one here and are ready to work on our own,” the Belarusian leader said.
Continuing working together is the second option. “The owners will change, new people, who are interested in manufacturing, primarily potash fertilizers at Uralkali, will come. We are ready to work with those,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stated.
The head of state remarked that the resumption of partnering ties alone will definitely raise prices for the relevant commodities. “I don’t think prices will rise by three times or five times like it happened in the past. You see the state of the global economy. But I am convinced that we will be able to see a 50-100% increase this year or early next year,” the President said.
“Therefore, I don’t rule out working together with the people, who will be interested in effective operation of the enterprise in the Russian Federation. We have talked about it more than once,” the Belarusian leader added.
“This potash scandal must not become a stumbling block in relations between the states and between the two presidents. You know how hard it was to revive these relations in the past. We cannot allow them to be ruined once again,” the head of state stressed.
“But the most important thing is some people wondering what Lukashenko wanted to prove. Let me answer this question. Lukashenko wanted to demonstrate one thing: nobody is allowed to walk all over us and nobody will be allowed. We are a sovereign and independent nation. We have never been a problem for our neighbors and primarily for our Russian brothers. But we are not going to allow some individual swindlers from the West or the East to walk all over us. It is only thing I wanted to prove,” the Belarusian President said.
“The Belarusian people did not elect me to act in some incomprehensible representative capacity but to defend their interests without damaging neighbors, friends, and brothers. And that’s what I am doing,” Aleksandr Lukashenko concluded .