Report: Russia Threatens to Arrest Execs at Western Firms

They've also been told their assets could be seized if they withdraw from country
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 14, 2022 12:58 PM CDT
Russia Threatens to Seize Assets, Arrest Foreign Execs
People stand in line to enter Sberbank in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, March 12, 2022.   (AP Photo)

Western companies operating in Russia have been shifting executives out of the country after warnings that they could be arrested, sources tell the Wall Street Journal. Companies that have paused operations in Russia, including McDonald's, Coca-Cola, and KFC owner Yum Brands, have received letters, calls, and visits from prosecutors who have warned that their assets could be seized and corporate leaders deemed to have criticized the government could be arrested, the Journal's sources say. Russia's embassy in Washington, DC, labeled the Journal's report "fake news" and denounced "russophobic hysteria," though the same embassy long denied that Russia was planning to invade Ukraine.

Hundreds of foreign firms have responded to the invasion by pulling out of Russia or suspending operations, and many that have only partially ceased operation are coming under pressure to make a clean break, the New York Times reports. Vladimir Putin signaled last week that he might support a law allowing Russia to nationalize the assets of companies pulling out of Russia, but White House press secretary Jen Psaki warned that any such move "will ultimately result in even more economic pain for Russia," reports the Hill.

"It will compound the clear message to the global business community that Russia is not a safe place to invest and do business," Psaki tweeted. According to the Journal's sources, Western companies in numerous sectors, including banking, food, and apparel, have received warnings from prosecutors, and at least one company has limited communications between its Russian business and the rest of the firm out of worries that messages could be intercepted. (More Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

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