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European companies double game




Last week, the European Union adopted the 14th package of sanctions, increasing pressure on Russia. The sanctions aim to limit Russia’s access to technology, finances, and resources, which should weaken its military potential and curb aggression towards Ukraine.

Despite this, several large international companies continue to operate in Russia, raising questions about double standards. Immediately after the start of Russian aggression, the Kyiv School of Economics launched the portal, which publishes data on companies continuing to work in Russia, bypassing the clearly articulated position of the world community. According to the KSE, there are currently more than 2000 such enterprises: the list includes major corporations such as Chery, Philip Morris, Auchan, Pepsi, Leroy Merlin, Nestle, and many others. But special attention should be given to the fact that some companies continue to operate in secret.

Among them is the Swiss-Swedish cosmetics giant Oriflame, which, despite its public statements about ceasing activities in Russia, continues to receive significant profits from the Russian market. Previously, the issue of Oriflame’s double standards policy was raised by Italian MEP Anna Bonfrisco, who questioned not only the tools for investigating and curbing some of the cosmetics giant’s operations but also the prospects of freezing the company’s assets in the EU with the subsequent inclusion of its legal entities in future sanctions packages.

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The response from the European Commission, represented by Commissioner for Financial Stability, Financial Services, and the Capital Markets Union Mairead McGuinness, was rather evasive and did not contain specific proposals for resolving the situation – this caused disappointment among activists and the public.

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Additionally, one of the sources of dissatisfaction is localized in Poland, where the company’s largest factory is located in the capital. At the end of May, Polish Sejm Deputy Lucjan Petrzyk addressed a question to the Minister of Trade and Industry regarding the suspension of the activities of Oriflame’s Russian legal entities. As of the end of June, there had been no response to the deputy’s inquiry. Earlier, journalists from found that despite all the statements, Oriflame continues full-scale activities in Russia. The company’s products are sold through numerous channels, including Russian marketplaces and its own website, with the possibility of payment in rubles and delivery throughout the country. At the same time, alongside its activities in Russia, Oriflame supports Ukrainian soldiers.

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The issue is also being raised in Ukraine, where Verkhovna Rada Deputy Serhiy Kuzminykh demanded that “Oriflame Holding AG” be included in the list of international war sponsors. Based on responses to parliamentary inquiries (a copy of the inquiry is available to the editorial office), the issue of preventing the company from operating on two fronts is already under the control of the SBU and the National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption, responsible for compiling the list of terrorism-sponsoring companies.

Although the efforts of Ukrainian authorities have yet to find proper resonance in Europe, it is worth noting the zeal with which Ukrainians defend their interests. Not long ago, the Ukrainian consulate in Switzerland, where Oriflame’s headquarters is located, sent an official inquiry to the company. But Oriflame’s response, as expected, was as abstract as possible, assuring that activities have been “reduced to almost a minimum.”

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Oriflame and similar companies continue to profit from the war while hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians risk their lives defending their country. Russia’s military aggression has exposed a new dimension of moral responsibility to consumers and the world community – large international companies must take this into account even when it conflicts with their commercial interests. In the era of global awareness and instant information exchange, consumers demand transparency and sincerity, and any form of duplicity instantly becomes public knowledge.

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