Pernod Ricard has said it remains confident that the issuance of an arrest warrant for the chief of its partner in Stolichnaya will not affect the agreement between the two companies.

Late last week, a court in Russia issued a warrant for the arrest of Yury Shefler, who owns the SPI Group. The Russian company owns the rights to distribute the Stolichnaya vodka brand outside of its home country. The court said that Shefler should be arrested on charges including the use of violence against a government official and trademark violations.

Speaking to just-drinks, a spokesperson for Pernod's Stolichnaya Organisation said: "The disputed ownership of the Stolichnaya trademark within Russia has been going on for some time. However the ownership of the Stolichnaya trademark outside of Russia is undisputed and has been unsuccessfully challenged by the Russian government.

"The Russian government's personal dispute with Mr Shefler is none of our concern," the spokesperson continued. "Clearly we hope that the two parties will sort out their problems in the future, but our international sales and distribution agreement with SPI carries on as before."

State-owned company Soyuzplodoimport, which holds the Stolichnaya trademark in Russia, has been fighting to regain control of the brand's rights since it sold the brand to SPI for US$300,000 in 1997. The market price for just two brands, Stolichnaya and Moskovskaya, was then estimated at nearer US$400m. The state-controlled firm has claimed that Shefler forged and destroyed documents in order to buy Stolichnaya at the lower price. Shefler subsequently moved his operations from Russia to Latvia.

Pernod, which handles the global distribution of Stolichnaya, has confirmed that it has been in discussions with Soyuzplodoimport to settle the row since May last year.