Coca-Cola has been threatened with legal action in Russia over its retail contracts. The soft drinks group appears to be co-operating with Russian authorities, however, and may avoid any charges.

According to local reports this week, Coke has been approached by the country's Federal Anti-Monopoly Service, which has told it to review its contracts or face charges of anti-monopoly violations.

The Moscow Times quoted Teimuraz Kharitonoshvili, a Federal Anti-Monopoly Service representative, saying: "We are looking into severe violations by Coca-Cola of Russian (anti-monopoly) legislation in which it limits access to competitors through exclusive contracts."

The move by the Service follows a local investigation in Krasnoyarsk, where regional watchdogs were investigating Coke's contract with a local circus. The contract is reported to include a clause banning the circus from selling other soft drink brands.

The Moscow Times said Coca-Cola has agreed to make adjustments in its Krasnoyarsk region contracts. It also appears that Coke will make the national changes necessary to avoid the legal action.

Head of anti monopoly service Igor Artemyev said in a press release yesterday (10 August) that Coca-Cola's willingness to prevent further abuse of anti-trust legislation by removing the clauses that hampered competition were welcome.

"We appreciate the position of Coca Cola, which said that it is ready to remove any violations of antimonopoly law voluntarily by excluding them from the contract terms (with Russian retailers) that hinder competition on the beverages market," the statement is reported to have said.