A letter to the people of the United Kingdom from the Founder of KKCG, Owner of Allwyn Entertainment

Everyone at KKCG and Allwyn Entertainment remains horrified by Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine. It is a senseless act of aggression that must be condemned in the strongest possible terms, and we are doing all we can to support the brave Ukrainians impacted by the barbarism of Vladimir Putin’s regime.

To the people of the United Kingdom,    

 

In recent days there has been some media speculation that I or one of my Group companies is linked to Gazprom. I would like to place on the record my position on Russia and the facts about my business dealings.

Everyone at KKCG and Allwyn Entertainment remains horrified by Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine. It is a senseless act of aggression that must be condemned in the strongest possible terms, and we are doing all we can to support the brave Ukrainians impacted by the barbarism of Vladimir Putin’s regime.

Having long been alive to the realities of the Russian regime, and the unfavourableness of its attitudes towards legitimate enterprise, I have been investing heavily into Ukraine. I took the decision many years ago to divest and exit from Russian assets with the exception of a shareholding in a gas terminal which we have been trying to exit for a number of years and a 50/50 joint-venture with Gazprom on an underground gas storage facility in the Czech Republic.  This JV has been maintained, at the request of the Czech Government, to ensure an important Czech energy asset was not subject to full Russian control. There are very few options to fully divest from Russian gas in Eastern Europe. What we want to do is free ourselves from Russian involvement without putting ordinary Czech citizens at risk, in the middle of winter, and discussions are ongoing with the Czech government on how to remove Gazprom from the JV. The other assets we had historically in Russia were successfully divested long before the invasion. Russia was never an investment priority. At its height it represented 5% of revenues. Investments have always been focused in western, free markets. 98% of our investments are in the UK, EU, Switzerland, and the USA.

I have been a very public critic of the Russian President, last week making a forthright public statement condemning his actions and predicting that the Russian invasion of Ukraine signifies the beginning of the end of his despotic regime. I immediately instructed my family foundation and all companies across my group to actively help Ukrainian people on a daily basis with financial and humanitarian aid. Through the Komárek Family Foundation and our partner on the ground in Lviv, we are supporting efforts to prepare for the arrival of large numbers of refugees by ensuring these people have a safe and warm place to sleep and food to eat. Trucks equipped with durable food, mattresses, sleeping bags, camping mats, hygiene products, and other supplies are currently arriving in the area. In Prague, one of Allwyn Entertainment’s buildings is being repurposed as a refugee centre for displaced Ukrainians. We are doing what we can and will do more in the coming weeks.

To portray me in any other way than as a critic and opponent of the Russian regime would be to ignore these facts and demonstrates a total lack of understanding of Czech-Russian history, as well as an ignorance of my own personal experience of growing up under the repression of Soviet occupation of my country.

I remember Russian troops occupying our countries all too well. Growing up in Hodonin under Soviet rule was harsh. The Communist Party controlled literature and dissidents were harassed and imprisoned for criticising the regime. We were isolated, travel was almost completely forbidden, and even supposedly ‘friendly’ communist countries could only be reached after endless form-filling to gain a government approved exit permit. The borders were marked by barbed wire and guards. It was a hell I would not wish on anyone, which is why I will always support Ukraine.

The sad reality is that a party in the UK wishes to use the war in Ukraine as part of a distasteful and shameful attempt to discredit Allwyn’s team and bid to operate the National Lottery. This speaks to their character, not ours or mine.

The invasion of Ukraine will live in infamy for generations to come. Sadly, Czech people know all too well the reality of Russian occupation. We stand resolutely with Ukraine, and humanitarian and financial support, both from my companies and me personally, will continue as long as needed. We recognise that these are only small acts in comparison to the thousands of brave Ukrainians who have taken up arms to defend their homeland and freedoms. However, I believe it’s the responsibility of anyone who values free and democratic values to play their part, no matter how big or small. It is critical that we all act.

Sincerely,

Karel Komárek, KKCG

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