Minsk unhappy at appointment of Russian expert as general counsel in export duty case

The justice ministry has criticized the appointment of a Russian professor as the general counsel in Belarus' legal battle against the customs duty applied by Russia to exports of petrochemical products and “petrochemical raw materials” to the country, BelaPAN reports.

The case, classed as a dispute between two member countries of the Eurasian Economic Community, is to be heard by the CIS Economic Court.

In its statement issued on Tuesday, the ministry says that Yury Mishalchenko's appointment does not run counter to the Court's rules but warns that the expert is a professor at St.Petersburg State University of Economy and Finance and Presidential Northwestern Academy of State Service. "These schools have direct organizational links with Russia's supreme administration bodies, including the Government of the Russian Federation, which is the defendant in the case," the statement says.

The appointment of the Russian expert may lead to an unfair consideration of the case, the ministry says, questioning Dr. Mishalchenko's impartiality.

The CIS Economic Court may not necessarily base its ruling on the general counsel's opinion, but the latter is important and may influence the Court's decision, the ministry says.

The ministry has asked the Court to substitute another expert for Dr. Mishalchenko. .