The leader and a high-ranking executive of Carlsberg’s Russian operations have been apprehended following the government’s assumption of control over the beer company in the country.
Denis Sherstennikov and Anton Rogachevsky, executives at Carlsberg’s Russian subsidiary Baltika Breweries, were arrested on Wednesday. This development comes after Carlsberg concluded its operations in Russia last month, a consequence of the state’s takeover of Baltika in July.
The duo faces accusations of fraud, although Carlsberg vehemently denies the allegations, branding them as false. In a statement, the company expressed dismay at the Russian state’s attempts to legitimize its unlawful takeover of their business, now extending to targeting innocent employees.
Carlsberg emphasized that the safety of its workforce, including those in Russia, has always been a top priority, pledging support for its employees during these challenging circumstances.
Last month, Carlsberg’s CEO, Jacob Aarup-Andersen, asserted that the Kremlin had “stolen our business in Russia.” The Danish brewer had been in the process of divesting Baltika Breweries as part of its exit from the Russian market when the government seized control.
In response to the arrests, Carlsberg stated, “Up until the introduction of external management by the Russian state, Baltika has acted in accordance with the law and the policies guiding all companies in the Carlsberg Group.”
According to investigators, Sherstennikov and Rogachevsky allegedly acquired intellectual property rights for Carlsberg Kazakhstan and Vista BWay Co, previously owned by Baltika, “through deception.”
These rights, estimated to be worth over 295 million roubles (£2.65m), supposedly enabled Baltika to distribute its products in several countries, including Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Mongolia, and Belarus.
Baltika, with 8,400 employees across eight plants, produces well-known beer brands in Russia under Carlsberg, such as Kronenbourg 1664, Tuborg, Brooklyn, and Somersby cider.
The move to seize control of Baltika in July was executed under an order signed by President Vladimir Putin. Carlsberg had announced termination of all licensing agreements in October, but a legal appeal by Baltika sought to prevent Carlsberg from ending the licensing agreement.
Carlsberg’s refusal to make a deal with the Russian government that would legitimize the illegal takeover was reiterated by Aarup-Andersen.
Last Updated: 17 November 2023