Major Ukrainian record label cuts ties with French music giant over refusal to pull out of Russia

One of Ukraine’s biggest record labels has cut ties with €1bn (£880m) French music giant Believe over its refusal to exit Russia.

Mozgi Entertainment said it was suspending cooperation with the music distribution group amid accusations that the French company was still active in Russia.

Iryana Horova, who founded Mozgi with her husband, singer Potap, said the label began withdrawing its music catalog from Believe after discovering it was still operating in the “enemy market.” contains over 2,000 songs.

The move will bring new scrutiny to Believe, which has been criticized by British MPs for its continued operations in Russia.

The company is one of France’s largest technology companies. It helps artists and indie labels to promote on social media and have their music on their streaming platform. Believe has worked with artists such as La Roux, Razorlight and Björk.

In March, the company, which operates in about 50 countries and is valued at around €1 billion on the Paris Stock Exchange, announced it would suspend operations in Russia, including halting new hiring and investments.

However, documents seen by The Telegraph show that top Believe Russia executives continue to market the company’s services. In one email, an executive offered the Russian label his €3 million for new releases and past catalogues.

Believe also distributes music in Russia and continues to recruit staff in the country, while signing an aggressive deal with SberZvuk, a streaming service formerly owned by licensed Russian lender Sberbank. is. UK has imposed sanctions on SberZvuk’s new owner.

Headquartered in Paris with an office in London, Believe’s latest financial figures show revenue growth in Russia and Ukraine by 8.8% in the third quarter.

In October, a group of parliamentarians signed a motion accusing Believe of “seeking to circumvent sanctions and profit from the withdrawal of a major competitor from the market”, prompting the French company to sell itself to Russia. asked to withdraw.

A petition urging Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Believe’s activities, saying its continued operations in Russia “literally sponsor a war against Ukraine and pose a threat to national security.” has also been submitted.

A music industry source said: “Despite saying they have stopped all operations and investments in Russia, Believe is still actively recruiting domestically, paying millions of dollars to Russian labels and internationally. We receive funding from music streaming companies that are under sanctions.”

Believe’s refusal to withdraw from Russia contrasts with the approach of the world’s largest record labels (Universal, Sony, Warner), which either suspended their activities in Russia after the invasion of Ukraine or withdrew from Russia altogether. increase.

Believe said it has stopped new M&A investments and restricted employment in Russia, adding that it complies with all applicable laws and regulations. The company also said it contributed to humanitarian assistance for Ukrainian refugees through donations to UNHCR and organized security and assistance for Ukrainian staff.

“Faithful to its values, Believe has made a commitment to peace and has chosen to continue working with local artists, labels and partners in Russia and Ukraine,” said a spokesperson.

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