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Lukashenka’s money frozen in Cyprus?

Lukashenka’s money frozen in Cyprus?

Around $3 billion, controlled by Lukashenka and his surrounding, have been frozen in Cyprus’ tow largest problematic banks - Bank of Cyprus and Laiki Bank.

A source of the Ukrainian web-site Версии.com in Nikosia reported about that on the condition of anonymity. So far it is impossible to say to what extent the amount belongs to the Belarusian dictator and to what extent – to his political and business partners. A well-known businessman Dzmitry Mazepin manages these assets. His financial and industrial group Uralkhim is the formal owner of the assets.

As media reported, Belarus-born Mazepin is close to Lukashenka: for special services to the country he was awarded a Belarusian citizenship. According to different data, Dzmitry Mazepin owns a diplomatic passport of the Republic of Belarus and often executes Lukashenka’s very delicate assignments beyond the country’s borders.

In February 2013 a number of media in Belarus, Ukraine and Russia reported of a possible appointment of Mazepin as a vice-Prime Minister of the Republic of Belarus, and also about a large loan of Russia’s Sberbank , which Minsk was going to obtain under the guarantees of the financial and industrial group Uralkhim. The loan was linked to the possibility of Uralkhim’s partners to participate in the privatization of large enterprises of the republic’s chemical industry – Belaruskali and Hrodnaazot. Lukashenka’s administration and the government of Belarus did not refute those reports, but neither the appointment, nor the loan deal has taken place so far.

According to the same source, now the attempts are being made to transfer the money of the Belarusian elite from Cyprus to Latvia, where the Uralkhim financial and industrial group also owns a large business. Thus, the Latvian company financial and industrial group Uralkhim belongs to it. It has been created in 2009 for selling mineral fertilizers from the Riga harbor and managed to become the largest Latvian company in terms of net turnover. The Uralkhim group also participates (via the offshore Cypriot company Uralchemfreightlimited, belonging to it) on the construction of a new terminal for mineral fertilizers on Riga Free harbor. Uralkhim’s successful development in Latvia largely owes to the fruitful cooperation of Mazepin and well-known Latvian politicians A. Shlesers, A. Shkele and A. Lembergs, who have minor shares in the Uralkhim group’s Latvian projects.

The representatives of official Minsk have evaded from making comments so far. However, one of the members of the Belarusian parliament claimed that the revelation of the information of real participation of the president Lukashenka in the Cypriot assets, formally controlled by Uralkhim and its owner Mazepin, may be rather painful for the Belarusian ruler. And for the European Union it may become an additional leverage to put pressure on Minsk, including in the issue of human rights observation in Belarus. It is also not ruled out that the necessity to unblock $3 billion and transfer them to another country (presumably Latvia) will make the Belarusian leadership change the vector of the talks over the privatization of the companies Belaruskali and Hrodnaazot. German, Polish and some other investors expressed interest in the possibility of purchasing these enterprises.

Uralkhim (United chemical company Uralkhim), created in 2007, is one of the largest companies in the mineral fertilizers market and fifth in the world producer of nitric fertilizers. The plant Azot in Berezniki of Russia’s Perm region, the plant Mineral Fertilizers in Perm, Kirov-Chepetsk mineral fertilizers plant in Kirov region and other enterprises belong to the company. Dzmitry Mazepin, who used to be a deputy chairman of the Russian Foundation for Fundamental Studies, owns 95.5% of Uralkhim’s shares, the rest of the shares belong to the company’s management.

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