The Kadyrov clan, head of the Russian subsidiary of Danone

Russian press reported on Tuesday evening that a relative of the Chechen leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, has been appointed as the head of Danone’s Russian subsidiary. The appointment comes two days after the publication of a decree signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin formalizing the Kremlin’s acquisition of the French agri-food giant’s Russian assets as well as the Baltika brewery belonging to Dane Carlsberg.

According to the Russian newspaper Vedomosti, 32-year-old Yakub Zakreev has irregularly held various positions in the Chechen government since 2013 and is now Chechnya’s deputy prime minister and minister of agriculture. Ramzan Kadyrov referred to the latter on Telegram as his “dear nephew”. An informed source in Grozny told Les Echos newspaper: “Kadyrov has long entrusted him with economic, industrial and agricultural affairs. In the family he is closest to the leader.” The red-bearded authoritarian leader, who has ruled the semi-autonomous republic of the Caucasus nearly twenty years unopposed, is a close ally of Vladimir Putin.

last March, the challenges It was revealed that half a dozen Russian companies had approached Danone to buy assets from the company. Some were run by businessmen close to the Kremlin, notably Dmitry Patrushev, who trained at the FSB academy (the chief in charge of internal intelligence, the successor to the KGB) and the current agriculture minister. The latter is none other than the secretary of the Russian Security Council, head of the FSB from 1999 to 2008 and the son of Nikolai Patrushev, cited as a possible successor to Vladimir Putin.

83,292,493,000 shares of “Denon Russia”

The French agri-food conglomerate announced last October that it was selling its dairy and plant-based products arm in Russia, which represents 90% of Danone’s business in the country and 5% of the group’s business. In detail, the decree published this Sunday specifies that 83,292,493,000 shares of “Danone Russia”, owned by the group “Produits Latiers Français East Europe”, are still placed under the control of the Russian state, according to the decree, as well as another 85,000 shares belonging to the group “Danone Trade”.

French, which initially assumed its presence in Russia to meet the “essential food needs of the civilian population”, said it planned to relinquish control of its “dairy and vegetable products” branch, retaining only infant nutrition. The French giant had specified that this withdrawal action “could lead to a depreciation of up to 1 billion euros” in its accounts. Danone markets milk and yogurt in Russia under the Danone, Danissimo or Prostokvashino brands. In 2010, the group bought 57.5% of the number two Russian dairy company, Unimilk (21% market share and 25 factories).

In the case of Carlsberg, the Kremlin appointed Teimuraz Bolloev, who had already led Baltika between 1991 and 2004. According to the Financial Times, the latter is close to two of Vladimir Putin’s trusted men, powerful oligarchs Yuri and Mikhail Kovaltchuk. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 and the first economic sanctions imposed by the West, many multinational companies have left the country, others have suspended their activities in the oil, automobile or even luxury sectors.

(With AFP and Reuters)


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