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Putin Spokesman Suggests Kremlin Might End Ketchum Contract

"Communication services are mostly useless now."

Posted on September 2, 2014, at 6:22 p.m. ET

Pool / Reuters

WASHINGTON — Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov has suggested that the Kremlin may end its relationship with the U.S. public relations firm Ketchum, according to a report on Forbes' Russian site.

"Communication services are mostly useless now," Peskov told Forbes. "When you have unabashed propaganda coming from the U.S. and NATO countries, the usual laws of communication and information do not apply."

When the Ketchum contract expires, Peskov said, the Kremlin will decide "whether we need to continue our cooperation or take a pause."

Peskov is also quoted in the piece as saying that Russia tried to hire two other companies other than Ketchum.

Ketchum has represented Russia since 2006, but its relationship with the Kremlin has never been more fraught than now, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine drives its relationship with the West to crisis. Ketchum has cut back its number of employees on the Russia file from three dozen to 10, the New York Times reported, and has stopped representing Russian energy giant Gazprom because "Gazprom had decided to focus on Europe."

The Ketchum deal with Russia has proved enormously valuable for the company, which has raked in tens of millions of dollars from the account since 2006. There have been high-profile successes, such as Ketchum's placement of an op-ed by Vladimir Putin in the New York Times last year. But, according to Forbes Russia, all has not been well: the site reports that Ketchum was not behind Putin being named Time's person of the year in 2007, which Ketchum claimed it had arranged. Citing a former Ketchum employee, the piece also raises questions about Ketchum's disclosure of funds it has received from the Kremlin and Gazprom.

"The Forbes piece seems pretty accurate," said Angus Roxburgh, a former Ketchum consultant who wrote a book about his experiences working for Ketchum.

Kathy Jeavons, a Ketchum partner who is in charge of the account with Russia, declined to comment when reached by phone and hung up on BuzzFeed. Another spokesperson for Ketchum did not respond to requests for comment.

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