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17 Sep 2021

Cahal Milmo, Inews

British American Tobacco halts production in Belarus as US claims local manufacturer funds Lukashenko regime

Britain’s biggest tobacco company has suspended manufacturing of its brands in Belarus at a state-owned tobacco factory accused by Washington of fuelling tobacco smuggling and helping to finance the country’s brutal repressive regime.  

British American Tobacco (BAT) said it has stopped ordering from the Grodno Tobacco Factory Neman (GTF Neman), a government-owned enterprise which has a longstanding deal with the London-based cigarette giant to make some of its best-known brands such as Rothmans, Lucky Strike and Pall Mall for the Belarusian market. 

The decision follows the announcement last month by the US President Biden administration of sanctions targeting individuals and entities it accuses of lining the pockets of Belarus’s de facto dictator, Alexander Lukashenko, and his cronies by providing funds and sustaining the ongoing violent crackdown which has seen thousands detained amid claims of torture and brutality...

In a statement, BAT said: “Following the recent imposition of international sanctions against several Belarusian persons and entities, including GTF Neman, as well as restrictions targeting tobacco manufacturing materials, we have taken steps to ensure all activities remain compliant. 

“BAT has suspended its operations with GTF Neman and currently does not order manufacturing of its product from this factory.”