The popular Belgian beer resumes production in Russia. There are calls for a boycott

Leffe beer is re-produced in seven Russian breweries by AB InBev Efes, a joint venture between AB InBev and the Turkish beer producer Anadolu Efes, according to a tweet published earlier this month by the Belgian-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce in Russia.

The announcement, which came long after many Western companies closed stores and factories in Russia, sparked calls for a boycott. “The Leffe beer case says a lot,” said Oleg Nikolenko, spokesman for the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on Thursday. – In Belgium, there is a growing campaign to boycott this product from its most loyal consumers.

Katia Yushchenko, wife of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko, accused AB InBev of “supporting genocide”. “How Western Europeans like to lecture others about corruption when they choose money over morality themselves. Boycott #Leffe,” she wrote on Twitter.

The joint venture’s decision has forced its parent company AB InBev to deal with a growing PR disaster. A brewing giant that owns 24 percent. shares in Anadolu Efes, created a joint venture of AB InBev Efes with a Turkish company in 2018. Both companies have 50 percent. shares in the company, but Anadolu Efes exercises operational control over the day-to-day management of the company.

Anadolu Efes did not respond to a request for comment and attempts to contact the joint venture were unsuccessful. Asked if the company is opposed to the decision to brew Leffe in Russia, a spokesman for AB InBev said Thursday the brewery was actively trying to sell its stake in the venture to a Turkish partner and suspend the license to sell certain brands.

The Leuven-based company left the Russian market a few weeks after the start of the war in Ukraine. In April, the company announced that it would sell its 50 percent. shares in the venture with Anadolu Efes. However, the sale agreement has not been announced so far, and now the company has decided to resume beer production in Russian breweries.

Beer, like other food products, is not subject to European sanctions against Russia, as long as it is not produced in cooperation with sanctioned individuals or companies.

In Belgium, the news of the resumption of Leffe production sparked outrage from local politicians. “This raises an ethical and moral question,” says François Desquesnes, the Walloon legislature who sits on the Belgian Parliament’s agriculture committee. “The license to produce Belgian beer in Russia is a real threat,” adds Desquesnes.

AB InBev is not the only Western company fighting to sever Russian contacts. The French oil giant TotalEnergies is trying to distance itself from its joint venture Ternieftegaz with the Russian company Nowatek. Uber is still looking for a buyer for its shares in a venture with the Russian technology company Yandex.

Bartosz Brzeziński contributed to the report.

Date Created: Yesterday, 13:14

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