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Russian ex-president mocks Carlsberg after brewer says its business was stolen

Taps for Carlsberg beer are seen in a bar in Copenhagen

By Alexander Marrow

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev sneered at the Danish brewer Carlsberg on Wednesday for having thought it could quit Russia without penalty after the West sanctioned Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.

Carlsberg CEO Jacob Aarup-Andersen on Tuesday said Russia had stolen its business when President Vladimir Putin in July granted temporary control of its majority stake in the Russian brewer Baltika to the federal government.

Russia says the move does not change the ownership structure, but Carlsberg said it had cut ties with Baltika, scrapping all licence agreements, and would not enter a deal with Moscow that would make the seizure look legitimate.

Medvedev, once seen as a liberal reformer but now an arch-hawk as deputy chairman of Russia's Security Council, mocked the brewer in a typically profane posting on Telegram.

"Like their brethren in the Western menagerie, they abandoned everything in Russia for political reasons ..., refused to fulfil their obligations to Russian contractors.

"And they thought they'd be left alone," he wrote. "'We give you sanctions, and weapons to the Ukrainian regime, but don't you touch our property, or at least let us sell it profitably'."

The Danish group halted investments in Russia shortly after the invasion and has been trying to sell Baltika since last year, following in the footsteps of many other Western companies exiting Russia.

Carlsberg had eight breweries and about 8,400 employees in Russia, and took a 9.9 billion Danish crown ($1.4 billion) write-down on Baltika last year.

($1 = 7.0694 Danish crowns)

(Reporting by Reuters in Moscow and Alexander Marrow in London)