The New Yotk Times: A Push for Safer Fertilizer in Europe Carries a Whiff of Russian Intrigue


PhosAgro, a publicly traded company, dismissed any notion of Russian government involvement in its efforts. “This is utter nonsense,” the company’s chairman, Sven Ombudstvedt, said in a written statement. “PhosAgro is acting as any business would and should — with the potential to benefit a wide range of stakeholders, from food consumers to farmers to the company’s own shareholders.”

Like many of the largest Russian conglomerates, PhosAgro has strong Kremlin ties. It is run by Andrei A. Guryev, the scion to one of the country’s wealthiest oligarch families. Vladimir Litvinenko, a former high-ranking official for President Vladimir V. Putin’s political campaigns, owns 19 percent of the company. The company obtained a key mine in 2012 after Mr. Putin’s government seized it from a political opponent, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and put it up for sale.

“PhosAgro and the Kremlin, through Mr. Litvinenko, are very close. It’s like one family,” said Igor Sychev, a former company executive now living in asylum in Latvia. “They wash each other’s hands.”

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