Uralchem owner says he did not fund Telegram channel Nexta

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MOSCOW, June 7. /TASS/. The owner of the companies Uralchem and Uralkali, Dmitry Mazepin, has told the media he did not fund the Telegram channel Nexta, which is outlawed as extremist in Belarus.

“I can say straightforwardly and honestly that I do have an immediate bearing on the companies Uralkali and Uralchem, whose names contain an allusion to the Urals, but neither my companies nor I have ever funded the aforesaid Telegram channel,” he told the media on Monday.

Earlier, one of Nexta’s founders, Roman Protasevich, said that some of the sources of funding were Russian, adding that he was referring to a company related to the Urals and mining. He also mentioned that Mikhail Gutseriyev was that company’s competitor.

“As far as I know, Gutseriyev is involved in many projects, including the oil business and creative endeavor. I have nothing to do with the former or the latter. We are not competitors,” Mazepin said.

He stressed that he had not held any meetings in Poland.

“Now a few words about alleged meetings in Poland. Amid the covid pandemic, it is hard to go to any place without being noticed, particularly so when special permissions are needed. As far as Poland is concerned, I have never been to that country,” he added.

“I find it very unpleasant to talk about the financing of Telegram channels not because there are no facts, but because this run counter to my views,” he added.

Mazepin said he understood well enough “the authors of this political soap opera, who would like to show a Western plan for the seizure of Belarus, on the one hand, and to make everybody think once again there was a so-called ‘Russian connection’ involved.”

The very same authors, he said, speculated about the Russians detained in July 2020, who, the Belarusian authorities said, were affiliated with the private military company Wagner Group.

“Once again, somebody is very eager to foment speculations about a Russian company that is allegedly involved in funding the project Nexta,” he concluded.

Moscow’ position

Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the media on Monday that either Protasevich or Minsk would have to explain their statements that Nexta had been funded by some “businessman from Russia”. He remarked that Mazepin’s name was not mentioned in Protasevich’s interview and speculated that he must have been talking about “somebody else.”.