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Government tells arts bodies to suspend cultural events funded by Russian state

Government tells arts bodies to suspend cultural events funded by Russian state

Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez has asked arts bodies that get federal funding to suspend all cultural activities involving Russians linked to Vladimir Putin’s regime in protest of his invasion of Ukraine.

Canadian Heritage has written to organizations receiving the department’s funding, asking them to cancel tours and co-productions bankrolled by Russian or Belarusian state organizations.

The demand, issued last month, could lead to cancellation of exhibitions of art loaned from Russian galleries, as well as concerts, festivals, and theatre and ballet productions featuring Russian artists.

It warned that Canadian cultural organizations found to have ties with the Russian or Belarusian states will also no longer get government funding.

But the letter makes it clear that ordinary Russians with no ties to Putin’s regime or to the Belarusian state will not be affected.

The Heritage Department said it had launched a review to identify activities involving Russia and Belarus.

“We urge you to do the same, and to suspend all activity involving the participation of Russian or Belarusian state organizations or their official representatives,” the letter said. “This includes program partnerships, direct and indirect financing of tours, co-productions, participation in festivals or other events involving the Russian or Belarusian governments.”

Rodriguez faced questions Thursday about whether the instruction was so broad it could lead to Russian artists being penalized more generally, while probing all links to the Russian state, including officials, could prove difficult.

Laura Scaffidi, press secretary to Rodriguez, said the scope of the instruction would not capture work by ordinary Russians and Belarusians, or Canadians with Russian and Belarusian heritage.

“Russian culture has given the world so much rich music, literature and other art. We celebrate that,” she said. “This is not about unfairly targeting law-abiding and peace-loving citizens and permanent residents.”

A number of arts organizations have cancelled events involving Russian performers since the invasion of Ukraine.

Earlier this month, the Canada Council for the Arts announced in a blog post that it was cutting ties with Russian and Belarusian artists.

The Vancouver Recital Society and the Orchestre symphonique de Montreal have announced they are cancelling planned concerts with Alexander Malofeev, a young Russian pianist.

In the U.K., the Royal Opera House cancelled a tour of Russia’s Bolshoi Ballet following the attack on Ukraine.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 31, 2022.

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Coca-Cola and PepsiCo suspend Russia business, point to

Coca-Cola and PepsiCo suspend Russia business, point to

Coca-Cola and PepsiCo — two of the biggest beverage producers on the globe — are joining the largest fast-food chain in suspending business in Russia in the wake of that nation’s invasion of Ukraine.

Echoing concern for the people of Ukraine voiced earlier in the afternoon by McDonald’s, Atlanta-based Coca-Cola on Tuesday announced it was curtailing operations in Russia. “Our hearts are with the people who are enduring unconscionable effects from these tragic events in Ukraine,” the multinational stated.

“We will continue to monitor and assess the situation as circumstances evolve,” the statement added.

PepsiCo cited “the horrific events occurring in Ukraine” in suspending sales of Pepsi-Cola, 7 Up and other brands in Russia, along with capital investments and advertising in that country, where it’s operated for more than 60 years. The company will continue to sell dairy products including milk, as well as baby food and formula, it said.

Starbucks followed suit, saying it was suspending all business activity in Russia, including shipment of its products. “Our license partner has agreed to immediately pause store operations and will provide support to the nearly 2,000 partners in Russia who depend on Starbucks for their livelihood.”

“We condemn the horrific attacks on Ukraine by Russia,” stated the coffee chain’s CEO, Kevin Johnson. 

The companies made their announcements shortly after McDonald’s said it would temporarily close its 850 restaurants in Russia. Like Coca-Cola’s briefer statement, McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski’s open letter to employees stopped short of condemning Russia for its attack. 

More than 2 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia’s invasion of the country, according to the United Nations. 

While a broad range of companies have shut down in Russia as the Ukraine crisis escalates, McDonald’s and Coca-Cola were among those continuing to do business there. 

Both companies faced boycott campaigns on social media, while McDonald’s was among those getting called out by the New York state pension fund, one of the largest investors in the U.S.

On Tuesday, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli applauded the move by McDonald’s and other companies to withdraw from Ukraine. 

“Companies doing business in Russia need to seriously consider whether it’s worth the risk. As investors, we want assurances that our holdings are not in harm’s way. I commend the companies that are taking the right steps and suspending their operations in Russia,” DiNapoli said in a statement.

More than 200 U.S. and foreign companies have curtailed operations in Russia so far, according to a running tally by Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a management professor at Yale University. He previously had listed McDonald’s and Coca-Cola as among the companies remaining in Russia with significant exposure.