11 Jun 2019 10:21

Court places four new suspects in Druzhba oil pipeline contamination case under house arrest

SAMARA. June 11 (Interfax) - The Samara District Court placed four new suspects in the case concerning the contamination of the Druzhba export oil pipeline under house arrest on June 7.

The individuals placed under house arrest are Vladimir Matyukhin, Dmitry Nikishov, Roman Gladkov and Roman Yakushev, a court official told Interfax.

"All four are suspects under Part 4, Subsections 'a,' 'b' Article 215.3 of the Criminal Code of Russia. The Druzhba oil pipeline is mentioned in the case materials. The court chose pre-trial restrictions against them in the form of house arrest until June 30," he said.

It was reported earlier that six people stand accused of criminally conspiring to steal at least 1 million rubles worth of oil from the Druzhba pipeline. Four were detained and arrested: Nefteperevalka LLC CEO and deputy CEO Svetlana Balabai and Rustam Khusnutdinov, Petroneft Aktiv LLC CEO Vladimir Zhogolev and Magistral LLC deputy director Sergei Balandin. None of the four managed to challenge the arrest.

International arrest warrants have been issued for the other two, former Samaratransneft-Terminal LLC CEO Roman Ruzhechko and former Petroneft Group beneficiary Roman Trushev. A court issued a ruling on their arrest in absentia that their defense lawyers were unable to appeal.

Belarusian state petrochemical company Belneftekhim reported on April 19 that oil with high organic chlorides content had gotten into the Druzhba pipeline. Gomeltransneft Druzhba, a division of Belneftekhim, suspended transit of tainted Russian oil to Europe on April 24. Both Belarusian oil refineries, Mozyr Oil Refinery in Gomel Region and Naftan in Vitebsk Region said equipment might be damaged due to the contaminated crude and reduced production of oil products by almost 50%. They were also forced to suspend exports of light oil products to Ukraine, Poland and the Baltic countries.