McDonald’s has officially shut down in Russia. Despite its closure, a new local alternative, Uncle Vanya, is moving to take its place — with a familiar logo.
The burger business’ closure is part of an ongoing exodus of Western countries from the country following the conflict in Ukraine, which has had a significant impact on the lives of average Russians since it began in late February due to the economic toll enforced by western governments.
In a March 12 Russian trademark filing, Uncle Vanya’s logo bears a strong resemblance to the international fast-food chain, with its golden arches, rotated 90 degrees to the right forming the letter “B” in Cyrillic alphabet, which is pronounced “V” in English.
According to the Washington Post, the plan is for existing McDonald’s operators to repurpose their restaurant businesses, sourcing local ingredients and using local supply chains to reproduce the staples of McDonald’s menu.
Named after the 19th-century play, “Uncle Vanya” by Russian playwright Anton Chekov, the restaurant chain will continue to provide jobs for workers and repurpose the locations under the new brand.
The 1990 arrival of McDonald’s in the Soviet Union drew crowds as well as headlines, becoming a symbol of the West’s triumph over communism at the end of the Cold War. The Soviet Union collapsed in the following year. Since then, the American chain has gained popularity in Russia and Ukraine, both former members of the Soviet Union.
Nine per cent of McDonald’s $23.2 billion in revenue last year came from the two countries.
The Chicago-headquartered company has said it will keep paying full salaries for employees in Ukraine, where McDonald’s had 108 stores before the war, as well as in Russia, where the company had nearly 850 stores and 62,000 workers.
“They announced they are closing. Well, OK, close,” said Vyacheslav Volodin, a speaker of Russia’s lower house in parliament. “But tomorrow in those locations we should have not McDonald’s, but Uncle Vanya’s,” he said. “Jobs must be preserved and prices reduced.”
Following Western sanctions of Russia, government officials said that business entities and individuals in the country can now ignore the patents from nations that have pulled out from the Russian market.
Russian President Vladimir Putin endorsed a plan to nationalize foreign-owned businesses that have since departed the country, calling on locals to limit their dependence on foreign management and “transfer these enterprises to those who want to work.”
As reported by Rebel News, the move comes with the easing of copyright laws to offset the sanctions. Effectively, the Russian government will legalize the piracy of Western TV shows, movies, software and video games — among other patented products.
The move is not without historical precedent. Long before the United States enforced its patent system, the U.S. government encouraged the intellectual piracy of British technology. As detailed by History.com, the United States became an industrial leader by appropriating scientific innovations from Europe following the American Revolutionary War. Russia appears to be following in its footsteps.