Due to Russian connections, a Swiss engineering firm had to stop operations in Poland.
Dozens of Polish employees took to the streets on Friday to protest the government’s decision to suspend the activities of Sulzer Turbo Services due to its ties with Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg.
Polish media reported that around 160 people were affected by the sanctions placed on a minor shareholder. Protesters gathered in front of the Ministry of the Interior of Warsaw. The protesters were heard chanting “Sanctions against Russians and not Poles”
Vekselberg’s Renova Group controls Tiwel Holding AG which, as of May 2018, held a total of 48.82% in the Swiss industrial engineering company.
At the end of April, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki’s government introduced sanctions on 35 organizations and 15 individuals from Russia and Belarus, including Vekselberg for his alleged “close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin and former President Dmitry Medvedev.”
The assets of these individuals and organisations were then frozen in Poland. Following the suspension of all bank accounts, two Polish branches of Sulzer Turbo Services – in Lublin and Warsaw – have been unable to pay employees, settle obligations, or fulfill contracts.
“The Polish sanctions apply to Sulzer’s minority shareholder, Viktor Vekselberg, and have been expanded over Sulzer’s two Polish entities, even though Mr. Vekselberg has no control or ownership of any Sulzer entity and is deprived of all his economic rights at Sulzer,” the company said in a statement last month, announcing the suspension of activities.
Sulzer noted that it is not sanctioned in any other countries, it is “able to continue to develop its business globally.”
In a press release sent to members of the media, the company said it had “clearly expressed its position on Russia’s aggression against Ukraine” by donating over 1.4 million zlotys ($327,000) to help refugees in Poland.
“On April 10, the last payment to our accounts was made. Since then, we are indigent. People have borrowed money from banks. They have to repay the installments and pay for nursery care. We all have to survive.,” one of the company’s employees who took part in the protest on Friday told Gazeta Wyborcza.
Protesters claim that the Polish government, as well as the US-based and Swiss-based Sulzer owners have cut themselves off to these issues. “for political reasons.”
“They left us to ourselves,”They said.
Massive protests are already being held in several countries such as Spain, Iran, Morocco and Morocco because of the impending economic, food, or energy crisis caused by Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine.
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