Kennedys to close Moscow office as Bar Association condemns Russian actions

Kennedys is in the process of withdrawing from Russia, as international concern mounts over the invasion of Ukraine and several law firms take steps to distance themselves from the situation.

According to a person at the company, Kennedys began the process of closing its Moscow office in late 2021 amid growing concerns about the likelihood of Russian military action against Ukraine.

The office no longer employs lawyers, the person added. Its office lease expires in August 2023 and the company will not renew this lease.

Nick Thomas, Kennedys Global Senior Partner, said in a statement, “We were uncomfortable with the direction the country was heading and made the decision to close our Moscow office last fall.”

“We have already terminated the small number of employees who worked in this office, after taking the time to comply with local labor laws.”

He added: “Naturally, our thoughts and sympathy are with Ukraine. We are now working hard to identify local Ukrainian and Polish charities to ensure we provide support where it is most needed.

The company had a presence in Moscow since 2015when it partnered with local chambers CIS Advocates.

The office was formerly headed by Constantin Saranchouk, now based in London, according to his Kennedy profile.

The decision comes as several other international law firms are withdrawing from representing major state-linked Russian clients amid convictions by various bodies.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Law Society of England and Wales issued a statement condemning the actions of the Russian state.

The President of the Law Society of England and Wales, I. Stephanie Boyce, said, “The Law Society stands in solidarity with the people of Ukraine, the National Bar Association of Ukraine and the Ukrainian Bar Association. We also stand with the Russian people who oppose their government’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, and the lawyers who defend the rule of law in the region.

“We condemn the actions of the Russian Federation, which are contrary to international law. There is no doubt that these actions pose a direct threat to the rule of law.

“We continue to support our members in the region during this difficult time.”

Meanwhile, White & Case has become the latest outfit to confirm that it examines the relationships as international condemnation of the Russian regime’s invasion of Ukraine grows.

On Monday, Baker McKenzie, Sidley Austin and Venable of Washington DC became the first companies to go public with advertisement that they were breaking some of their ties with Russia.

Although Baker McKenzie did not specify which clients he would part ways with, Sidley named VTB Group, among Russia’s biggest lenders, and Venable named Sberbank, the country’s biggest bank.