Yara, the global crop nutrition company, headquartered in Norway, announced on 10 January 2022 that it would wind-down its relationships with the Belarusian state-owned company Belaruskali from whom Yara is purchasing potassium, representing about 15% of Belaruskali’s turnover.
Belarsian diasporas, NGOs and (after some initial hesitation) the office of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaia have been asking this for months as such Yara’s dealings are incompatible with Yara’s own ethical rules and provide financal support to Lukashenka’s terrorist regime. Despite this huge pressure, a petition with almost 100,000 signatories and 30 protest actions organised in London alone by the Norway’s embassy (Norway being Yara’s major shareholder) in UK, Yara has been consistently trying to shield behind its alleged concern for “the safety and well-being of Belaruskali workers”, while over a hundred of miners were subject to repressions and several are still in jail. Further, recent report provided evidence of Belaruskali’s top executives having been continuisly actively engaged in rigging elections in favor of Lukashenka in the city of Salihorsk, where the company is located.
Disappointingly, Yara did not decide to stop supporting the dictator because of their ethical choice, but because the supply chain is paralysed by EU and US sanctions. “The effects on the supply chain from the current sanctions on Belarus have forced Yara to initiate a wind-down of its sourcing of Belarusian potash” reads Yara’s statement. In other words, if it were up to them, Yara would have continued their unethical business, ignoring their previous promise to review the relationships by December 2020 ! Unsurprisingly, Yara says that it would continue the current relationships until the 1st April 2021, the very last deadline of the current US sanctions licence exemption for dealings with Belarusian Potash Company.
Luckily, not all businesses are so greedy and unethical as Yara: several dozens of western companies have already cut ties with the Belarusian regime. The most significant recent examples are Pirelli Group (who decided in December 2021 to stop working with the Belarusian Steel Plant) as well Henkel, Mentholatum, L’Oreal, Sandoz, and JYSK who all stopped placing ads on Belarusian state TV.