MINSK, September 3 (RAPSI) - Defense attorneys for Vladislav Baumgertner, Chief Executive Officer of OAO Uralkali, the world's largest potash producer, are presently preparing their client's defense, one of the Belarusian lawyers told RIA Novosti on Tuesday.

According to the lawyer, the pre-trial investigation is in its infancy.

On Monday, one of the attorneys visited Baumgertner in his detention facility. The question of such visits once a week is being decided at present.

Baumgertner, CEO of OAO Uralkali, was detained in Minsk last Monday and charged with abuse of power, according to the Investigative Committee of Belarus. According to the Belarusian authorities, the criminal case was launched as the result of a probe into abuse of power allegations that led to grave damage to the public interests of Belarus, and damages to the company Belarusian Potash.

Uralkali reacted swiftly, blaming Belarus authorities for the incident. "We are surprised with what has happened and consider it a provocation," PRIME business news agency quoted Uralkali representative Alexander Babinsky as saying.

Potash makes up around 8 percent of Belarus' exports and Belaruskali is one of its largest industrial enterprises. A major fall in potash prices would therefore deal a severe blow to Minsk, which has suffered from major falls in the Belarusian ruble in recent years.

Uralkali has long coveted Belaruskali and was in negotiations last year to buy a stake in the company, but talks fell apart after Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said he would not sell a controlling stake in the state-owned firm.