We, the anonymous media resistance group, want to draw attention of society and fellow journalists to cases of inconsistent behavior of transnational corporations in the context of the war. With this statement we want to express disagreement with the policy of silent exit; we believe that lack of an articulated position only aggravates wrench of information practised by The Russian Federation government. We know that the corporations can influence public opinion if they make statements for their clients and employees, in which they will openly name the reasons of their leave from the Russian market. The statement was published in March.
In recent years, we got used to hearing corporations and companies brag about their responsibility to customers and employees. These days, when the Russian Federation is bombing Ukraine and killing have hardly made any attempts to explain their actions to Russian citizens. That wouldn’t be significant or peaceful Ukrainians, we also see that giants of trade are actually leaving Russian market or suspending their activity there. However, while presenting it as a conscious behaviour outside Russia, these giants necessary if there were free, independent media in Russia which could cover or explain what was going on to their audiences. In reality, there are hardly any left. Over these three weeks, almost all credible sources providing reliable information and hard facts have been completely destroyed. And while companies stay silent and not explain their actions to Russian citizens in an attempt to secure their possible return to the Russian market, while antiwar activists are hunted inside the RF, the Russian state’s propaganda is already probing its way towards legitimising the use of nuclear weapons.
Correct us if we are wrong, but we thought that there would be no trade if there is no world to trade in. You cannot trade if humanity does not exist. Well, maybe big companies have some other planets to do their business on. Otherwise we cannot explain why Adidas, Google Russia, McDonalds Rus, Ikea Rus, Pepsico, Inditex, H&M, LVMH etc. have not made any vocal statements for their Russian customers or employees. We are outraged to see how these corporations are contributing with this silence to the Russian military propaganda, effectively supporting the repressions against antiwar activists and the suffering of Ukrainian people. While outside the RF some of those companies made statements outlining their deep concern regarding the tragedy in Ukraine, in the Russian media space they at best called the very same deaths of peaceful Ukrainian citizens a “current situation” or “circumstances”.
We do not want corporations to call deaths of children and pregnant women “circumstances”, when it is not convenient for them to call it war and genocide. But neither we want them to keep silent. We believe that this kind of silence, the silence of those whose life and freedom is not at risk, is a crime against humanity. It is a crime against both Ukrainians and those Russian citizens who are struggling to break through the propaganda blockade every day. It is a crime against those who have worked for these companies for years in the Russian Federation, as this lack of explanation condemns them to being brainwashed by propagandists, effectively pushing them to support this nightmare. In the best case scenario, the lack of an articulated position will lead to a longer war in Ukraine and extreme poverty in Russia. In the worst case scenario, it will hasten the end of humanity.
We demand that corporations make statements to their former employees and customers in Russia, and explain the reasons for their withdrawal from the Russian market.
We want them to call it what it is: a war started by Russia.
All the companies mentioned above have a big media presence in Russia, and they are currently NOT using it to stop the war. We want to see them use it. Otherwise, we ask conscious consumers around the world to push them to speak against the war.
During the first month of the war about 500 companies announced suspension or termination of their activity in Russia. Over 150 companies ceased their interactions with the Russian Federation and are currently selling their assets, 178 have temporarily interrupted their activity, preserving the ability to return to the Russian market and continuing to support their employees, 78 reduced their activity and the number of operations, having withdrawn investments and adverising, 34 continue economic partnership despite the USA sanctions. The latter are oilfield service companies such as Schlumberger and Hallington, which have obviously chosen profit over boycott.
Some pharmaceutic companies such as Abbott Labs or Pfizer explain their presence with humanitarian responsibility to keep open chains of supplies connected to healthcare. Also, many IT services and corporations have faced difficult moral choice, as their leave would lead to the stengthening of Putin’s dictatorship, to the disappearence of areas for alternative politics rather than to subversing the existing regime.
Soon after the leave of IT services and companies there appeared international and local calls for preserving digital freedoms for those who oppose the regime (activists, independent and micro media, human rights advocacy groups, etc.)
You can see and support letters here:
A letter to Access Now
A statement of Roskomsvoboda
You can trace the lists of companies and their positions here
It is worth taking into account that it is not enough to leave the trade area silently, to close branches and freeze investments in disdain. In Western and European segments of social media some companies have made bold statements where they openly denounce military agression of Russia on the territory of Ukraine, whereas in the Russian Federation they have remained silent.
For instance, the spokeswoman of Adidas group announced: “As a company we strongly condemn any form of violence and stand in solidarity with those calling for peace”. However, Adidas Group did not think it was necessary to make any statement on their official site or in Russian social media.
Ikea, which has 15 000 employees in Russia, also called its leave a “situation as it has developed” in Russian social media and on their official site, although the publication in global media looks like this: “The devastating war in Ukraine is a human tragedy, and we deeply sympathize and are concerned about the millions of people affected. The direct actions of Inter IKEA Group and Igk Group were aimed at ensuring the personal safety of IKEA employees and their families, and we will continue to do so”
Examples of double representations of their opinion and motives of exit from the market leave a lot of questions. We call for consistency regarding the position about war, we call for a local answer which can be symmetrical to the global one.
We have sent letters to a number of big companies where we urge them to give responsible articulation of the reasons of their leave by sending letters to their employees or by making statements in Russian social media:
In the modern world, the trade is built around the concept of responsibility of corporations to their customers and employees. We, the citizens of Russia that are against the war in Ukraine, are deeply disappointed to see that (name of the company) has not made any statements to Russian customers and employees explaining the reasons for suspending activities in the Russian Federation.
In the authoritarian regime, where the only access to information is through the lens of the fascist state ideology, where activists and conscious citizens are risking their safety to break through the ideological blockade, it is a crime against humanity to stay silent and not to explain the true reasons for withdrawing from the Russian market. We understand that the corporations want to stay cautious and secure the possible return to the market, as well as their reputation. However, the reputation of (name of the company) will not stay intact for a long time unless you make a statement for people in the Russian Federation and explain, in Russian, that your company is unable to continue working in Russia because it is currently bombing the neighbouring country and killing peaceful citizens of Ukraine including women and children. We are asking you to deliver an honest message without any ambiguity, as it is really disturbing to see companies call the war in Ukraine a tragedy when speaking outside of Russia — and call it “a current situation” or “conditions” inside the Russian Federation. We do not want to see a well-respected company call the bombings and deaths of children and pregnant women “a situation”, because anyone who says so or keeps silent is actually actively contributing to the ignorance of the general population in the Russian Federation and elongates the suffering of Ukrainians.
These is the questions we are addressing to you:
Given that (name of the company) is a transnational company, does this mean that your position on the war in Ukraine coincides with the position repeatedly expressed by the international community? Which is: the Russian government is an aggressor and a war criminal against people in Ukraine, and an oppressor of Russian citizens.
We sincerely hope to see the statement of (the name of the company) as soon as possible.
With a few exceptions (like Deutche bank) the answers of the companies were boureaucratic and representing a form of ignoring.
We are hoping that a coherent message to their employees explaining the position of the company could influence the shaping of opinions, which would differ from state-linked media and dominating rhetoric.
Also, we want public debate to form around these cross-purposes, neoliberal double policies and corporative irresponsibility. Where is the border between the necessity to take responsibility and conformous silence?
We collect and post inarticulate statement of companies here
You can contact us by writing to our mail indicated in instagram: firstname.lastname@example.org