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Russian media: German prosecutor's office opens preliminary investigation into Knauf

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk April 22, 2024 11:24 PM 2 min read
The headquarters of the Knauf Group in Bavaria, Germany, on Aug. 19, 2019. (Daniel Karmann/picture alliance via Getty Images)
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The Wurzburg Prosecutor's Office has opened a preliminary investigation into the German building materials manufacturer Knauf, allegedly involved in the reconstruction of Russian-occupied Mariupol, Russian state-controlled news outlet RIA Novosti reported on April 22.

According to RIA Novosti, the Wurzburg Prosecutor's Office spokesperson Tobias Kostuch said that the preliminary investigation does not mean the company is suspected of a crime but rather "serves to determine whether such an initial suspicion exists at all."

Business Insider reported on April 22 that Knauf had released a statement announcing it was ceasing operations in Russia in light of "current events" but did not provide a specific reason for the withdrawal.

The Monitor program of the German TV channel ARD reported on April 3 that Russia uses Knauf-produced cement in construction works in Mariupol, which Russia largely destroyed in the first months of its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

The company, which is known for its production of materials like drywall, plaster, and insulation, has rejected the allegation and said it complies with relevant laws and sanctions.

Knauf wishes to "transfer the entire business in Russia, including raw material extraction, production, and sales, to local management in order to preserve the jobs of more than 4,000 employees," a Knauf spokesperson told Business Insider.

The outlet wrote that the move is pending approval by Russian authorities, who have already been informed of the plans.

Ukraine designated Knauf an "international sponsor of war" in November 2023 due to its continued presence in the Russian market and contribution of over $117 million to Russia's state budget.

Report identifies 17 Russian military units involved in assault on Mariupol
A report published by Human Rights Watch, Ukrainian human rights organization Truth Hounds, and SITU Research on Feb. 8 identifies 17 military units that took part in Russia’s assault on Mariupol at the start of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
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