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War in Ukraine: French companies present in Russia under fire from boycott calls

In front of an Auchan supermarket in Moscow, in August 2020.

“Renault, Auchan, Leroy Merlin must stop sponsoring Russia’s war machine, stop financing the murder of children and women, rapes. » Before the French Parliament, by videoconference from kyiv, the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, urged, on Wednesday March 23, the French companies which are present in Russia to ” leave “ the country. “Everyone must remember that values ​​are worth more than profits”, he added. In the evening, the Renault group, in which the State is a shareholder, announced that it would suspend its operations and study its options for its subsidiary Avtovaz.

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Leroy Merlin persisted in his intentions to maintain his operations there. And yet, from all sides, the brands owned by the Mulliez Family Association are being ordered to draw the curtain in Russia. Starting with the DIY brand, which makes 5 billion euros in sales there. Already on Monday, March 21, Oleksiy Goncharenko, Ukrainian MP, from his Twitter accountcastigated Leroy Merlin, whose “taxes paid in Russia finance missiles”. With shocking images in support: those of the ruins of one of the largest Leroy Merlin stores, destroyed during the bombardment of the Retroville shopping center, in the north-west of kyiv, by the Russian army, Sunday March 20. On the Web, again, Ukrainian employees of the brand have launched a petition to obtain the closure of all its Russian stores. Leroy Merlin is also the target of boycott calls on the Net.

Because, despite the decisions to withdraw or suspend activity taken by four hundred foreign companies present in Russia, according to the count of the American University of Yale, the mobilization against the firms which persist in keeping their assets there takes momentum. In Switzerland, on March 21, the day after President Volodymyr Zelensky’s videoconference during a demonstration for peace in Bern, Actares, an association of militant shareholders, asked the Swiss giant Nestlé, “urgently”, to consider the injunction of the Ukrainian president to pack up. The following day, the collective Anonymous claimed to have hacked into Nestlé’s database.

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Blacklist of foreign firms in Russia

On Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram, the hashtags #StopPutin or #ExitRussia are flourishing on the accounts of multinationals. The Boycott Russia collective thus hammers home its “Stop financing the war in Ukraine”. Launched with the support of Dmytro Dubilet, founder of the start-up Monobank, former member of the Ukrainian government, and “five thousand to seven thousand volunteers”, this campaign lists the foreign firms present in Russia. Its site publishes an open letter to address to the leaders of these companies. In a few days, its audience reached an honorable level: 730,000 views on Twitter and 438,000 on Instagram.

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