When the world was shocked by the massacre of the civilians in Bucha and the terrible atrocities of the Russian military in Ukraine over 750 international companies have curtailed their businesses in Russia. The reasoning is simple: they don't want to fund the war and killings through the taxes they pay to the Russian government.
Nations have united in imposing sanctions, global capital markets have gone even further. Capital is being pulled by investors and companies that have long done business in Russia: i.e. BlackRock on Monday, February 28, suspended the purchase of all Russian securities in their active and index funds. A number of major index providers have announced removal of Russian securities from their indices.
Still, some companies continue to operate in Russia through their subsidiaries despite statements of legal separation. One of them is marketplace Avito.ru, owned by Prosus (Naspers group).
Avito is in fact social media platform with user generated content with 120 transactions performed every minute totaling (!) 64 billion transactions per year. In fact, this is not only the economic support of the aggressor, which can be blamed on any global business still operating in Russia. This is the legitimization of military annexation and economic platform for war crimes.
Its users spread nazi symbols, calls for war to a 50-million audience and turn the property of dead people into a trophy. Avito rushed to remove those job adverts once, but Russians still keep creating them. Prosus also stated that it's going to separate from its former parent, but the process will take several months. In the meanwhile, Prosus still retains 99.6% of ownership, yet does nothing to halt Avito operations as legal issues are being addressed. 4,000 employees continue to maintain the world's second-biggest classified site after Craiglist. Another job seekers portal HH.ru (listed on NASDAQ) also published numerous vacancies for mercenaries, as reported by BBC.
A group of activists worldwide is demanding the termination of Avito operations in Russia. The question is how many more innocent kids should sacrifice their lives for every single international business to figure out they can no longer keep silent and ignore the biggest aggression since World War II.
Until recently, social networks were not responsible for the user content, at most conducting some kind of moderation. Today intolerance, hate speech and xenophobia are eradicated by digital platforms of all kinds.Western world does know the power of social networks - to start with BREXIT, the US presidential election and the anti-vax movement. For example, Google has suspended "free speech" social network Parler from its Play Store over its failure to remove "egregious content". The app had failed to remove posts inciting violence, Apple has also warned Parler it will remove the app from its App Store if it does not comply with its content-moderation requirements.
The shortlist of Avito’s inhumane activities includes:
- job offers for recruitment in military invasion of Ukraine
- announcements about the sale of goods that have become the subject of looting, robbery and robbery
- nazi symbolics sales
On the HeadHunter website, BBC journalists found more than three thousand vacancies posted per month, on SuperJob - in the week to April 13, 18.1 thousand similar ads were posted. Advertisements to search for contractors on HeadHunter have been placed before, but since the end of February there have been significantly more of them, the company told the BBC. So, for the first three and a half months of 2022, 6.8 thousand vacancies in the specialty "Contract serviceman" were published on the site, while for the whole of 2019 there were about 1.1 thousand, for 2020 - about 5.7 thousand, for 2021 - about 8.3 thousand.
However, the owners of Avito in most cases refuse to do moderation, bashfully looking away.
Avito's main shareholder, Naspers, is run by Dutch entrepreneur Bob van Dijk. To stay on the sidelines and not be responsible, Bob van Dijk changed the architecture of ownership.
Prosus (a subsidiary of Naspers) in a statement regarding Avito states: "We can confirm OLX Group has taken a decision to cease all involvement in its Russian operations. The separation process is underway which will decouple the companies into two independent entities. Avito will operate as an independent Russian entity run by a local management team, and governed by its own Board of Directors.
Prosus will have no day-to-day involvement in the operations of the business and will neither invest further nor seek to benefit economically from the interest in Avito in these circumstances.."
However, this is contrary to the principles of corporate governance - after all, Prosus continues to own 99.6% of Avito.ru, which means it cannot distance itself from it.
Bob van Dijk, despite the announced changes in the structure of Avito, continues to control everything today. More gruesome is that Avito's list of shareholders includes BlackRock and other equally well-known shareholders.
Today a group of volunteers are writing to representatives of Naspers shareholders, already having lost faith that Avito will take any reasonable steps.
Among these recipients (the list is not exhaustive):
- Mortimer J. (Tim) Buckley (Chief investment officer The Vanguard Group)
- Martha G. King (Division director The Vanguard Group);
- Harald Klug (Managing Director BlackRock);
- Graeme Forster (Portfolio Manage Orbis Investment Management Ltd.);
- Birgitte Bryne (Chief Technology and Operating Norges Bank Investment Management).
Taking such steps activists hope to reach out and "revive/mobilize" a sense of responsibility to the Ukrainian people, humanity, and the free world.
A list of all NASPERS shareholders is here.
However, in addition to Bob van Dijk, Koos Bakker plays one of the key roles in the existence of Avito.
Koos Bakker is a South African billionaire businessman and chairman of the Naspers media group. Moreover, Koos Becker is a sponsor of The RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
It turns out (which means) Koos is sponsoring a massive European show, an event of royal scale - with blood money earned in the war between Russia and Ukraine.
It is worth noting that in June 2017, Naspers CEO Bob van Dijk was accused of destroying approximately $25.6 billion in shareholder value since his appointment.
In June 2021, 36 fund managers wrote a public letter criticizing Naspers and Prosus' boards of directors for their complicated share swap scheme, management inconsistencies, and dizzying salaries for Naspers' managers.
Еhis is far from the first corruption scandal in van Dijk’s history. He has been involved into corruption in Africa in 2020 and racial purges of personnel after the purchase of another business;
Source: 2021 article.
A group of Ukrainian activists is fighting against companies conducting bloody business with Russia, which by their activities indirectly finance genocide of Ukrainians.
The activists demand a moderation policy and the termination of Avito’s business In Russia.
They appeal to international business and financial communities as well as Avito’s shareholders to address the Avito’s actions in a relevant and just manner.