by Nicholas Harris
Thursday, 3
March 2022
Spotted
07:00

Companies race to remove any mention of Russia

From cancelled meerkats to a vodka ban, home-made sanctions are everywhere
by Nicholas Harris
Russian-born meerkat Aleksandr Orlov has been cancelled by price comparison website Comparethemarket

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.

The now cancelled EA FIFA Russia team

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’. 

Russian contestant Manizha at least year’s Eurovision concert

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’

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R Wright
R Wright
4 months ago

I find all of this quite distasteful. While I’m in not in favour of Russia’s invasion treating Russian people and companies like they are an enemy power rubs me the wrong way. We haven’t declared war and yet we’re taking economic measures like those of a hostile country. How does ruining the career of a famous composer for refusing compelled speech against his own country make sense? People are becoming shockingly illiberal in their supposed defence of the liberal Ukraine.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
4 months ago
Reply to  R Wright

I agree. While companies are free to boycott products and source it from elsewhere if they wish, as is the case with the vodka in the bars, the banning of the formula 1 driver and composer appears to be punishing normal Russian citizens for the crimes committed by Putin

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
4 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Presumably the theory is that the composers and F 1 drivers of Russia will rise up in anguish and force Putin to reverse his invasion. Does that sound like a credible strategy?

Warren T
Warren T
4 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

I think it is insanity to place that level of burden on an individual citizen.

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
4 months ago
Reply to  R Wright

I agree. It’s ‘madness of crowds’ behaviour similar to twitter pile-ons. Everyone wants/needs to join the stampede.

R S Foster
R S Foster
4 months ago
Reply to  R Wright

…I agree. What we should clearly do is declare war, and attack them properly…

Aldo Maccione
Aldo Maccione
4 months ago
Reply to  R Wright

it has more to do with virtue signaling than anything else.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
3 months ago
Reply to  R Wright

It is weird the degree of Russophobia that has become acceptable across our society.
In fact people seem to be competing to win the ‘league’ for who can be the most extreme canceller of all things Russian.
Only this morning on the BBC Munchetty, she who sneered only last year at the U.K. flag and Queen’s portrait but now ardently (fashionably?) supports symbols of Ukrainian patriotism, was challenging Raab about the number of oligarchs that have been sanctioned by the U.K. compared to the EU.
What a strange race! Let’s put aside the laws respecting property ownership, which define Englishness to a large extent, so we can beat up some rich Russians, which won’t have any effect on Putin anyway?

rodney foy
rodney foy
3 months ago
Reply to  R Wright

I would like an analysis about whether this stuff will benefit Ukraine and its people, because I don’t see it

Claire D
Claire D
4 months ago

Russia is being “cancelled”, that’ll show ’em.

Last edited 4 months ago by Claire D
Andrew D
Andrew D
4 months ago
Reply to  Claire D

Yes, I’m going to stop listening to Tchaikovsky, and have taken my (unread) copy of War and Peace to the charity shop. Take that, Vladimir!

Last edited 4 months ago by Andrew D
Warren T
Warren T
4 months ago
Reply to  Andrew D

And to join in, I will allow 2-3 individual eggs to fall from my plate of beluga cavier this evening.

Lennon Ó Náraigh
Lennon Ó Náraigh
4 months ago
Reply to  Warren T

There goes that nice game of Russian roulette I was going to play…

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
4 months ago

Yes but Laverov suggests we are already playing Russian Roulette.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
3 months ago
Reply to  Claire D

Can we still watch Cleese speaking Russian in Fish Called Wanda?

Andrew D
Andrew D
4 months ago

I’ll miss the meerkats

Dave Weeden
Dave Weeden
4 months ago
Reply to  Andrew D

Things aren’t quite that … simples.

Lennon Ó Náraigh
Lennon Ó Náraigh
4 months ago

Titania McGrath will now only eat a chicken kyiv, a chicken kiev will never cross her plate again. She is so selfless and brave.

Warren T
Warren T
4 months ago

I wonder if the pearl clutches on Park Avenue will boycott Russian caviar! Heaven forbid.

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
4 months ago

Well, I’m sorry about the meerkats. Couldn’t they have been rebranded as Ukrainian meerkats?

Tom Lewis
Tom Lewis
4 months ago

Isn’t Scotland one of the biggest vodka producers ?
Looks like a war in a far away place might have a silver lining for a striving to be independent nations balance sheet (If only it’s drinks industry wasn’t owned by the French, or maybe the Russians, or maybe just owned by some postbox in some far away tax haven that isn’t actually owned by some dodgy Russian).

Warren T
Warren T
4 months ago

What on earth is the impact to Putin of severing or canceling a conductor or a race car driver from their profession ? As is always the case, the law of unintended consequences rules.
This insanity will lead to catastrophic results when this precedent becomes the norm in the future.
Imagine the Brazilian football team not being allowed to play in the Olympics, some day, due to some high ranking official disagreeing with mask mandates?