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MOSCOW, April 29. /ITAR-TASS/. Washington’s move to impose sanctions on Moscow may cast doubts on the future plight of McDonald’s restaurants in Russia or at least press their share down in the market of fast-food services.
McDonald’s came under a fire of criticism in the Russian Federation after Crimea’s reunification with this country in the middle of last month. The owners of the chain closed down its outlets in the Crimean Peninsula then, citing unspecified ‘production reasons’.
Many analysts said, however, the story had a clear political underpinning.
Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the flamboyant leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) came up with a sharply worded statement in this connection.
“McDonald’s has closed down its restaurants in Crimea and that’s very good,” he said. “It’d be much better if they closed down in Moscow and all across the country. I’ve given an instruction to the city branch of our party to put up pickets near all the McDonald’s restaurants in Moscow and in other parts of Russia so that the chain would round up faster here.”
“We’ll shut them down all around the country so that no one shows up here in the future,” Zhirinovsky said.
“The shutting down of McDonald’s outlets in Crimea is explained for, first and foremost, by the reluctance of the chain’s owners to fall under the sanctions imposed by the US Administration, since the bulk of their outlets are located in the US,” Dr. Sergei Markov, a member of Russia’s Public Chamber, a consultative body of public representatives who simultaneously is director of the Institute for Political Research.
On the face of it, visitors of social networks began to sign up in support of Zhirinovsky’s proposals. The situation contrasts remarkably with the history of McDonald’s Russian segment of business - when the first restaurant opened in downtown Moscow in spring 1990, about 30,000 people queued up towards its entrance.
At present, McDonald’s has 422 outlets in 72 cities and towns and its annual revenue stands at billions of US dollars, which means that the empire may come under a telling blow in Russia.
Monday morning, Vladimir Putin urged the Russian regions to develop national cuisines.
“We have a perfect cuisine and the problem is how to streamline the production of foods of a higher quality than our immediate competitors including McDonald’s may offer,” Putin said at a session of the Council of Legislators adding the Russian national fast foods should also have competitive prices.
He thus answered the speaker of legislature of the North Caucasian region of North Ossetia, Alexei Machnev, who said the traditional Ossetian open-face cakes could put up a strong competition to the McDonald’s foods and the Italian pizzas.
Putin put forward a task of setting up the conditions at the regional and municipal levels that would be lucrative for businesses of this type. “We must give them certain preferences,” he said.
Streamlining the national cuisines of Russia’s ethnic groups in the fast-foods sector is a very good sphere of activity, Putin said.
The case in hand is the creation of a competitive environment in that sector but expert feel apprehensive along with it about a possible vanishing of McDonald’s outlets in Russia.
“In theory, a law banning the operations of such chains in Russia is possible but it will be out of the political realm, not the legislative one,” Dr. Gennady Laptev, a lecturer at the department of business law of the Russian Academy of the National Economy told Itar-Tass.
“The decision will be damaging for Russian citizens and Russian companies, as the 35,000 or so workers employed by McDonald’s will lose their jobs and the suppliers will lose their customer,” Alexei Polovichev, the CEO of the company Rusbrand said.
“No doubt, Russia does stand in need of nation fast-food chain, like the cafeterias selling cakes or dumplings,” Lev Yeremenko, the former chef of the Kremlin told ITAR-TASS.
“The chain of Kroshka-Kartoshka (Potato Crumb, serving traditional Russian salads, vegetable and potato meals) bars is developing fast enough and the Ossetian cakes enjoy fair demand, too, and still many people like the McDonald’s menu,” he said.
“However, the US is expanding sanctions against Russia and their negative energy should be used for positive development so as to challenge the dominance of global fast-food networks,” Dr. Markov said. “This will bring benefits to the Russian economy.
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