Ketchum is disposing of its owned operations in Russia following the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
This decision affects Ketchum’s majority-held office in Moscow, which will no longer be part of the Ketchum-owned network, a spokesperson for the agency said in an emailed statement.
The Moscow office will be independently led by its original founders and minority owners, Michael Maslov and Serguey Chumin, as it was before integrating into the Ketchum network in 2010, the agency said.
Asked if the whole of parent Omnicom Group is making a similar move, a spokesperson for Ketchum told PRWeek that “this is a Ketchum decision.”
Ketchum had worked for the Russian government on international issues, starting in 2006 when it was brought on to support the presidential press office as the country prepared to host the G8 Summit in St. Petersburg.
At the end of 2014, Ketchum ended its work for the Russian Federation in the U.S. and Europe amid continuing tensions between the country and Western governments. The Omnicom Group firm represented the Kremlin through its hosting of the Winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014 but also as its relationship with the West strained over the country’s role in the conflict in Ukraine. Ketchum was paid nearly $23 million by the Russian federation from 2006 through mid-2012, according to ProPublica, as well as $17 million by energy giant Gazprom.
Agency holding companies have halted or spun off operations in Russia over the past week. Dentsu International said it was transferring ownership of its joint venture in Russia to its long-term local partner on Wednesday. On Tuesday, Publicis Groupe pulled out of Russia and passed ownership of its agencies to local management with immediate effect. Publicis is the owner of PR network MSL, as well as consultancy Kekst CNC and public affairs shop Qorvis.
WPP, which owns PR firms such as BCW, Hill+Knowlton Strategies and Ogilvy PR, also said on March 4 that it is shuttiering its wholly owned operations in Russia.
Interpublic Group, which has joint ventures with local partners and an affiliate relationship for media-buying, suspended its operations in Russia on March 14. IPG is the parent of PR firms Weber Shandwick, Golin, DeVries Global, Current Global, Rogers & Cowan/PMK, ReviveHealth and United Minds.