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13 Okt 2022

Nataliya Popovych,
Bennett Freeman, Fortune

Commentary: Russia's Putin is forcing foreign-owned companies to participate in his conscription campaign. It's time to get out

13 October 2022

Protecting civilians during wartime from violence of any kind is a profound human rights responsibility, not just for governments and armies, but also for companies. And the need to protect people—or at least their own employees—has been a regular refrain of the hundreds of international companies that have chosen to remain in Russia since February, even as hundreds of others have exited...

Our analysis shows that one out of every five multinationals remaining in Russia and communicating its position publicly justifies its stance as protecting its employees.

However, since President Putin announced a so-called “partial military mobilization” on Sep. 21, the Russian government is pushing businesses into direct involvement in the war that borders on complicity.

The mobilization call enacted Article 9 of Russian Federal Law No. 31-FZ. The law mandates all organizations to assist with delivering the summons from the military to their employees, to ensure the delivery of equipment to assembly points or military units, and to provide the Russian forces with buildings, communications, land plots, transport, as well as information. Significantly, the law applies to all 1,610 foreign-owned companies that are currently operating on a full or limited scale in Russia.

Analysis from the B4Ukraine coalition of Ukrainian, international civil society groups, and KSE Institute reveals that foreign companies still employ at least 700,000 people in the country. Most of the employees (around 87%) work for multinationals from 10 countries: the U.S., France, Germany, Switzerland, the U.K., Japan, Italy, Greece, China, and the Netherlands. U.S. companies employ 251,294 people, French companies employ 123,642 people, and German companies employ 91,280 people in Russia...

In the wake of the Sep. 21 announcement, BBC Russia reported that companies received a military summons and demands to send employees to the mobilization points...