Russia fiercely rebukes Belarus for detaining potash boss
A representative for Kerimov, who has launched a fire sale of players from his Russian Premier League soccer club Anzhi Makhachkala to cut costs, declined to comment.
The intensification in tensions between Minsk and Moscow comes as the centrally planned Belarussian economy faces a widening of external deficits that, economists say, risks a repeat of a currency collapse suffered in 2011.
Potash accounts for about a 10th of Belarus's export income and 12 percent of government revenues. BPC's collapse will raise pressure on Minsk as it eyes the release of a further tranche from a $3 billion loan facility from a Moscow-led bailout fund.
"It doesn't look like a mortal blow but it complicates an already difficult situation," said Jacob Nell, an economist at Morgan Stanley in Moscow who covers the region.
The clash is symptomatic of dysfunctional trading relations that blight the former Soviet space - even though Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan have formed a joint customs union and are the anchor economies in a broader regional economic partnership.