Report: Moscow Warns of Arrests, Seizures, Confiscations Against Western Companies Leaving Russia

A general view of a new Coca-Cola aluminum bottle during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Fall 2
Amy Sussman/Getty Images for The Coca Cola Company

The Russian government on Sunday reportedly threatened foreign companies who plan to withdraw from the nation they could have their staff members arrested and assets seized, as Moscow seeks to mitigate the economic impact of sanctions.

Companies that have allegedly received this threat – via phone calls, letters and in-person visits – include U.S. outlets Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Procter & Gamble, and Yum Brands – who own KFC and Pizza Hut. All of whom announced last week they would be ceasing operations in Russia while the Ukrainian invasion continues, as Breitbart News reported.

Alongside these reported initial measures to intimidate companies out of withdrawing from the former Soviet nation, Russia has also warned foreign company officials that they will be arrested or have their assets seized – which includes intellectual property – if they criticize the Russian government.

These alleged extreme measures have reportedly forced at least one foreign company to restrict emails to Russian team members due to fears about government influence, and also has triggered the companies to begin transferring their foreign national executives out of the rogue nation, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The Russian Embassy in the U.S. has however denied these allegations, retweeting the Wall Street Journal’s article with the words “FAKE NEWS” emblazoned across the top of it.

Following a Russian and American flag the embassy also replied, “The decision whether to continue entrepreneurial activity in our country is entirely up to the Americans. As well as the right to ignore the russophobic [sic] hysteria that encourages foreign businesses to suffer huge losses in order to hit Russia”.

While Russian President Putin expressed support for a law to nationalise the assets of companies that seek to leave Russia, The Wall Street Journal has not provided any printed evidence of “calls, letters and visits” to foreign companies, and spokespeople for the companies Coca-Cola, IBM, Procter & Gamble and McDonald’s have declined to comment on the matter.

Moscow has claimed the plan to nationalise foreign assets is an effort to prevent job losses and maintain Russia’s production of domestic goods and Putin has stated he could “bring in outside management and then transfer these companies to those who want to work”, but failed to acknowledge that this would be in breach of international law.

Washington has reacted furiously to this news with White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki stating “any lawless decision by Russia to seize the assets of these companies will ultimately result in even more economic pain for Russia”, as well as threatening legal action.

Putin has not however responded to or acknowledged Psaki’s statement.


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