Condé Nast has announced it is closing its entire Russian franchise as a result of the war in Ukraine and Russia’s new censorship laws.
The magazine publisher’s seven Russian publications – Vogue, GQ, GQ Style, Tatler, Glamour, Glamour Style Book and Architectural Digest – are expected to close with immediate effect.
In a memo emailed to Condé Nast’s global staff on Tuesday, the company’s chief executive officer, Roger Lynch, wrote: “The escalation in the severity of the censorship laws, which have significantly curtailed free speech and punished reporters simply for doing their jobs, has made our work in Russia untenable.
“While we’ve had a successful business in Russia for over 20 years, the continued atrocities brought on by this unprovoked war and the related censorship laws have made it impossible for us to continue operating there.”
Condé Nast’s Russian editions were initially suspended on 8 March. When Vogue Russia announced its suspension “until further notice” to its 1 million Instagram followers, it added: “We believe that this is not a farewell letter, but only a short pause, after which we will return to you. We hope that soon we will be able to continue our work.” It has not posted on the social media site since.
Vogue launched in 1998 as its 10th international edition and the flagship of Condé Nast’s Russian arm. Models including Claudia Schiffer, Kate Moss, Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner have appeared on its cover.
Fiona McKenzie Johnston, a British journalist who regularly contributed to Vogue Russia, said the Vogue Russia team was “very much pro-peace” and had used the magazine’s platform to promote anti-war messaging.
In early March, Vogue Russia shared a series of Picasso-inspired doves illustrated by Russian artists on its Instagram feed. “‘Vogue is calling for Peace’ was a constant refrain,” McKenzie Johnston said.
On its website, Condé Nast said Vogue Russia had more than 800,000 readers and was the most-read high-end fashion magazine in the country. The company claims that the combined reach of its Russian editions was more than 21 million people.
Lynch explained to staff that about 10% of employees in Russia would remain “to fulfil certain outstanding obligations”.
“It’s our absolute priority to do all we can and support everyone affected, including providing enhanced severance and benefits, employee assistance and outplacement programs, and dedicated People team guidance in applying for open positions in other markets.”
Condé Nast Russia’s initial suspension followed announcements from numerous fashion designers and luxury goods companies, including Hermès, LVMH, Richemont and Kering, that they were pausing trading in Russia.
On 9 March, Hearst Magazines – publisher of Elle, Esquire, Harper’s Bazaar and Cosmopolitan – announced it was terminating its licensing agreements for its Russian publications.