From cancelled meerkats to a vodka ban, home-made sanctions are everywhere
Over the last week, the West has hit Russia with sweeping economic sanctions. Alongside these, companies and organisations have offered up their own miniature sanctions, with sometimes bizarre results. From the cancellation of a fictional Russian meerkat to the removal of Russian vodka from English bars, here are some examples of corporate attempts to stand against the Russian invasion:
1. The price comparison website Comparethemarket, has cancelled adverts featuring the Russian-born meerkats Aleksandr Orlov and his manservant Sergei (above). In a statement they did seem to defend the meerkats, pointing out they ‘are fictional characters’ and have ‘no association with Russia and the current situation’, but things aren’t quite that simple.
2. The International Cat Federation, the body that oversees the world’s cat shows, has banned Russian cats and Russian cat-owners from its competitions. The board of the organisation wrote, ‘We can all witness the destruction and chaos caused by this unprecedented act of aggression,’ adding, ‘on top of that our Ukrainian fellow feline fanciers are desperately trying to take care of their cats and other animals in these trying circumstances.’
3. London’s Science Museum has cancelled their forthcoming exhibition, ‘Trans-Siberian: The World’s Longest Railway’, in order to show solidarity with ‘the people of Ukraine, who are suffering so much darkness and uncertainty during the invasion by Russia’.
4. British supermarkets are taking a stand, with Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s considering changing the name of their chicken ‘kiev’ to ‘kyiv’, and Co-op removing Russian-made Vodka from its shelves. Co-op’s spokesman said, “Russian Standard has been taken off sale with immediate effect because it is overtly marketed as being Russian and produced there.”
5. Warner Bros, Disney and Sony have stopped the release of their films in Russian cinemas. In a statement, Warner Bros said, ‘In light of the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, WarnerMedia is pausing the release of its feature film The Batman in Russia.’ Russian Disney fans will also miss out on the new Pixar film Turning Red, the story of a 13-year-old girl who turns into a giant red panda when she gets too excited or stressed.
6. EA Sports is removing Russian football clubs and the national team from their FIFA video game franchise. ‘EA Sports stands in solidarity with the Ukrainian people and like so many voices across the world of football, calls for peace and an end to the invasion of Ukraine,’ EA Sports confirmed via a statement.
7. The Russian F1 driver Nikita Mazepin, along with all other Russian motorsport drivers, has been banned from all British races, including the Grand Prix at Silverstone. David Richards, the chair of Motorsport UK, said: “It is our duty to use whatever influence and leverage we might have to bring this wholly unjustified invasion of Ukraine to a halt.”
8. The Russian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale has been cancelled as Russian artists themselves pulled out. Participants Alexandra Sukhareva and Kirill Savchenkov said: “There is no place for art when civilians are dying under the fire of missiles, when citizens of Ukraine are hiding in shelters, when Russian protesters are getting silenced.”
9. Eurovision has banned Russian from participating in this year’s contest. In a statement, the European Broadcasting Union, which manages the event, said it remained committed to ‘protecting the values of a cultural competition which promotes international exchange and understanding’.
10. Ten American states, including Ohio, Utah, Pennsylvania and Alabama, have halted the sale of Russian-made and branded vodka in their state-run liquor stores. “Utah stands in solidarity with Ukraine and will not support Russian enterprises, no matter how small the exchange,” said Governor Spencer Cox.
11. The Endeavour Group, Australia’s largest retail drinks network, has removed drinks originating from Russia from its shelves. “As an organisation”, a spokesperson said: “Endeavour Group is deeply concerned with the situation in Ukraine and we join the calls for peace.”
12. Several British bar chains, including Arc Inspirations, Nightcap and Bundobust, have stopped serving Russian vodka in their bars. Arc Inspirations tweeted: ‘To show our support to the people of Ukraine we will no longer be pouring any Russian vodka in our bars.’
13. Netflix has pulled all of its production projects out of Russia, including a forthcoming adaptation of Anna Karenina.
14. The Russian conductor Valery Gergiev, one of the most renowned conductors in the world, has had his ties with the Rotterdam, Vienna and Munich Philharmonic orchestras severed after he failed to publicly criticise Putin and the Russian invasion. The Rotterdam Philharmonic said that, though they spoke to Mr Gergiev, ‘insurmountable differences remained’.