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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Belarus Prosecutors Widen Probe into Energy Industry

MINSK -- Belarussian prosecutors arrested a current and a former state security officer and a former top Interior Ministry officer Monday, the latest figures to be targeted in what officials say is a widening corruption investigation into the petroleum industry.

Prosecutor General Peter Miklashevich also said that the arrests were connected with the arrest last month of Alexander Borovsky, a top executive with state-owned petrochemical company Belneftekhim. He said Borovsky had been charged with embezzlement, abuse of authority and spreading state secrets.

He refused to identify the officers of the Belarussian KGB or the Interior Ministry or say how much they had allegedly received, but he indicated the arrests were connected to the ongoing probe into Belneftekhim.

"This is connected with the supply of petroleum products, damages which, of course total in the millions of dollars," Miklashevich said.

Belneftekhim and its subsidiaries account for 35 percent of Belarus' industrial production and over half its exports.

Many of the country's oil refineries have suffered financially under a new duty Russia introduced in January on oil exported to Belarus; Moscow levied the duty while accusing Minsk of unfairly garnering billions in revenues by refining cheap Russian oil and selling higher-value products to Europe.

Lukashenko has sought to maintain a largely centrally planned, Soviet-style economy. He recently ordered the creation of a Belarussian Oil Company, which would control the oil industry, an apparent attempt to do away with middlemen companies that buy oil for use and refining in Belarus.