The French Bondel group officially denied to AFP on Monday that it had distributed food parcels to Russian soldiers accompanied by a message wishing them a “quick victory” in Ukraine, citing a “fake” on social media.
On Twitter, this weekend netizens called for a boycott of the canned and frozen vegetable specialist’s products, after two photos were broadcast on the main Russian social network VKontakte showing packaging with the Bonduelle logo.
These photos show a person in uniform carrying a box of branded boxes, along with a greeting card and this message in Russian: “Dear Soldier, Happy New Year! We wish you luck and a speedy victory!”.
“We do not distribute parcels to soldiers,” the French group told AFP on Monday, referring to the “fake”.
As of Saturday, the group confirmed in a press release that “this information as well as the statements attributed to Bonduelle and its management (were) completely false.”
On the other hand, the group confirmed its participation in Operation Baskets of Good. The project, which is organized by the Russian Food Bank, aims to collect products for the poor and “has nothing to do with the military,” according to a spokeswoman for Pondel.
A post on a VKontakte account in the Russian city of Yartsevo, which has since been deleted, claimed that 10,000 packages had been sent to the soldiers.
Pondel also denied comments attributed in that post to her general manager in Russia, Ekaterina Eliseeva, who would also have expressed her desire for a “quick victory” in Ukraine.
Based on an article in the Russian edition of Forbes, some netizens accuse her of having links with the FSB, the Russian security services with whom, according to the magazine, she trained as a translator in the 1990s.
Bonduelle is one of the few French companies that continued its activities in Russia after the invasion of Ukraine, like Leroy Merlin and Auchan (Mulliez), or even Lactalis.
He reiterated on Saturday that “the Bondel group continues its activities in Russia with the sole purpose of ensuring access to food for the population of Russia and neighboring countries.”
But in March he announced the suspension of “all investment projects” in this country.
The French group generates 5% of its annual revenue (150 million euros) in Russia, where it owns three factories and employs 1,000 people, as well as in neighboring countries such as Georgia and Armenia.
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