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2019.07.19 12:22

Russian businessman wanted in tainted oil probe detained in Vilnius, asks for political asylum

LRT.lt, BNS2019.07.19 12:22

The Lithuanian police have detained Russian businessman Roman Ruzhechko, a suspect in a Russian probe into a major oil pipeline contamination. Reuters reports that the Russian national has asked for political asylum in Lithuania.

“I can confirm that the person was detained under an Interpol search. The Prosecutor's Office refrains from further comment,” Elena Martinonienė, spokeswoman for the prosecutor general told BNS on Friday.

The former general director of a company called Samartransneft-Terminal, was detained on Wednesday, according to Russian media.

“The court sanctioned Ruzhechko's arrest for three months on Thursday. He has asked for political asylum,” Rimantė Kraulišė, spokeswoman for the Vilnius City District Court, told BNS.

Russian prosecutors have charged Ruzhechko and several other people in a criminal conspiracy to pollute the pipeline network.

The Russian pipeline Druzhba was halted in April after discovery of high levels of dichloroethane in the oil. The compound is designed to boost output, but can destroy refining equipment.

The tainted oil was then loaded onto over ten tankships in Russia's Ust-Luga port and offered at discounted prices.

According to Transneft, some 3 million tons of contaminated oil were transported via Druzhba and Ust-Luga.

Information gathered by BNS indicates that the Polish-owned Lithuanian crude refiner Orlen Lietuva has also imported a cargo of contaminated Russian oil.

Read more: Lithuanian refinery may have imported contaminated Russian oil