Kadyrov’s ‘dear’ nephew made head of seized Danone subsidiary in Russia


: A nephew of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has been appointed the new head of Russia’s Danone subsidiary DANO.PA after the Kremlin ordered the state to take temporary control of the French yoghurt maker’s business in Russia.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, many Western companies have fled Russia and some assets have been put under state management, with close allies of President Vladimir Putin gaining day-to-day control.

According to a decree signed by Putin on Sunday, the Russian state had taken control of Danone’s Russian subsidiary along with beer company Carlsberg’s CARLb.CO stake in a brewer.

Yakub Zakriev, 32, a deputy prime minister of Chechnya and the republic’s agriculture minister, took the post of general director of Danone Russia on Tuesday, Interfax’s SPARK database of company disclosure documents in Russia showed.

The appointment was confirmed by Akhmed Dudayev, Chechnya’s minister for national policy, foreign relations and information.

“Choosing him as general director of Danone Russia shows that representatives of the team of Chechen President and Hero of Russia Ramzan Akhmatovich Kadyrov are talented and successful managers,” Dudayev said on his Telegram messaging app.

“He has a huge experience of working in the most responsible positions,” Dudayev said. There was no immediate comment from Zakriev.

Kadyrov, a close ally of Putin, has referred on social media to Zakriev as his “dear nephew”. Zakriev is the son of Zulai, one of Kadyrov’s elder sisters, and studied economics at Moscow State University.

The appointment is another indicator of the scope of the transfer of assets underway in Russia since the Ukraine war triggered the biggest crisis in Moscow’s relations with the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

It also indicates the considerable clout of Kadyrov, the son of former Chechen President Akhmad Kadyrov who was assassinated in a 2004 bombing in Grozny.

 

ASSET TRANSFER

As many Western investors leave, the state is given nominal control but those appointed by the state to run the assets gain effective control, winning vast sway over Russia’s war-time economy.

The appointment of Kadyrov’s nephew marks the end of a 30-year Russian experiment by Paris-based Danone, which opened a dairy store near Red Square a year after the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union.

As the chaos of the 1990s calmed, Russia and the former Soviet Union was perceived as a major potential market, with relatively low consumption of dairy products by European standards along with explosive purchasing power growth.

Danone sought alliances with big local players during the boom years, eventually gaining at least a fifth of Russia’s dairy market.

But war intervened.

Danone said in October it would relinquish control of its dairy food business in Russia, which could have led to a write-off of up to 1 billion euros ($1.12 billion).

The invasion of Ukraine prompted the United States and its allies to impose the most severe sanctions in modern history on Russia and its business elite, steps Putin casts as a declaration of economic war.

Putin has said Russia does not need the West, will depend on its own vast resources and is pivoting to China and other powers.

Putin’s allies Yuri and Mikhail Kovalchuk have signaled their interest in Carlsberg’s Baltika subsidiary, which is based in St Petersburg, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday citing two people familiar with the matter.

Russia’s Vedomosti daily, citing the federal government property agency Rosimushchestvo, reported that Taimuraz Bolloev, who ran Baltika from 1991 to 2004, had been appointed its president.

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