Ventspils chocolate factory being checked for links to Russian army

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The State Security Service (VDD) is checking information related to the possible involvement of the Latvian-based chocolate manufacturer SIA "Pobeda Confectionery" in providing support to the Russian armed forces, the LETA news agency reported March 23.

The Russian confectionery company "Pobeda" has been producing chocolates, truffles, waffles and other types of sweets for more than six years in Ventspils, via a Latvian subsidiary. The company belongs to the Muravyov family - Vitaly, Andrej and Olga, who all possess Cypriot passports despite their Russian origins.

When the war started, the company did not stop its operations in Latvia, stating that it buys its raw materials from European countries. Groups of students and pre-school educational institutions visited the factory. However, yesterday, on the microblogging site "Twitter", activists in the group "Tālava taurējs" republished information from a Russian news portal, which states that

A month ago in Russia, "Pobeda" received thanks from an organization called the "Battle Brotherhood" for the fact that since the beginning of the Ukrainian war, the company has sent at least 15 tonnes of its products to Russian soldiers.

The candy manufacturer rents its premises from the municipality, which said it had started an internal investigation to see if the Ventspils factory is indeed involved in supplying the troops involved in Russia's illegal war. Even if this proves not to be the case, it raises serious questions about the presence of the Latvian subsidiary if the Russian parent company is doing so, as seems likely.

Saeima deputy Artūrs Butāns (National Alliance) called on the VDD to clarify matters, saying:

"If a company located in the territory of Latvia helps the Russian army, which is conducting military operations in Ukraine, then such a company has no place in our national economy, and its officials should be immediately brought to justice."

Butāns also called for an assessment of whether the location of such a production plant in the territory of the Ventspils Freeport, which is a strategically important state infrastructure, does not pose risks to national security.

As stated by the press secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), Diāna Eglīte, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, pointed out that at present US and EU sanctions are not aimed at the Russian food industry, but the situation raised serious cocerns.

"Latvia does not expect such investments that support Russia's war in Ukraine. If the information is confirmed, the necessary decisions will be made," said Eglīte.

In the meantime, the Ministry of Justice stated that "Pobeda" is not on the list of companies subject to sanctions.

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