The National Agency for Corruption Prevention of Ukraine (NACP) adds the owner of Lipton, Rexona and Dove to the list of international sponsors of war.
A giant billboard showing a photoshoot with wounded Ukrainian soldiers, in the style of Dove beauty adverts, has been installed outside parent company Unilever’s HQ in London. It comes on the same day that Unilever is officially placed on the Ukrainian Government’s International Sponsors of War list. Protesting against the company’s continued operations in Russia, the ‘advert’ depicts the real human impact of Unilever’s ongoing tax contributions to the Russian state. It is new CEO Hein Schumacher’s first week in the job.
Despite Unilever’s promise to ‘review’ its operations in Russia last year, the company almost doubled its revenue, with its net profit increasing 91% from RUB 4.9bn to RUB 9.2bn. Its tax contributions in 2022 are estimated to be over $331 million. During this time, Unilever also became subject to a new Russian law obliging all large companies to contribute directly to the war effort, including potentially through the conscription of Unilever’s 3,000-strong workforce. With Putin’s confirmation in late June that the Wagner group, shortly set to be designated a terrorist organisation by the UK Government, has been directly funded by the Russian state, incoming Unilever CEO Hein Schumacher has serious questions to answer immediately about the company’s operations in Russia.
Artem, 44, who lost both legs while fighting in the Kherson region and appears on the billboard, slammed Unilever for contributing to Russia’s war chest: “Every ruble contributed to the Russian Federation’s budget translates into bullets that harm Ukrainians and missiles targeting cities across Ukraine… Stop it.”
Speaking about Unilever’s official designation on Ukraine’s ‘International Sponsors of War’ list, Oleksandr Novikov, Head of Ukraine’s National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption, said: “You cannot say you are opposed to the war while at the same time contribute to the war effort. But that is what Unilever is doing. The Ukrainian Government is clear: companies who are paying hundreds of millions in tax contributions to the Russian state are helping to fund its war, helping to fund a mercenary group which has committed grave crimes, and helping to fund sanctioned individuals like Yevgeny Prigozhin. Unilever has a new CEO in Hein Schumacher, it needs a new start and to live up to its values of human rights. Unilever must leave Russia now or history will record its complicity.”
The campaign is a new initiative by the B4Ukraine partner Ukraine Solidarity Project, a network of Ukrainian and international activists calling for companies to stop doing business-as-usual in Ukraine. Just last month, campaign activities successfully pressured drinks conglomerate Pernod Ricard (Beefeater Gin, Jameson’s Whiskey, Glenlivet Whisky) to withdraw from Russia.