McDonald’s has closed its restaurants in Russia. It is part of the endless number of multinationals that have stopped their operations in this country in response to the invasion of Ukraine. But Russia is already preparing its own alternative homeland, albeit with a suspiciously familiar logo.
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On March 12, an application was filed to register the trademark of a restaurant chain in Russia. The name: “Uncle Vanya” (same as the play by Russian writer Anton Chekhov). The logo: the B of the Cyrillic alphabet that corresponds to the initial of Vania. The appearance of the logo: yellow initial that if you turn it to the right it is more than similar to the iconic McDonald’s M.
Josh Gerben, an American lawyer specializing in trademarks, patents and intellectual property, shared the document on Twitter and recalled that the intention to replace the closed McDonald’s in the country with their own “Uncle Vania” restaurants had already been announced in the Duma.
According to the Washington Post, Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of Russia’s lower house of parliament, said last week that Russian brands should replace the shuttered McDonald’s. “They have announced the closure. OK that’s fine. But tomorrow in those places we shouldn’t have McDonald’s, but Uncles Vanias”, he said.
For the multinational, Russia was a relevant market within its business, since it contributes about 10% of all its income. There it has more than 800 establishments, of which 84% are owned and about 15% are franchises.
When McDonald’s announced the closure of its stores, it said it intended to continue paying its 62,000 employees in Russia. However, the president of the Duma used as a reason for the substitution that “jobs must be preserved and prices reduced.”
In this sense, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced last week a plan to nationalize foreign companies that have left the country. “We will have to introduce external management and then transfer these companies to those who want to work,” he said.
Ikea, Apple, IBM, Volkswagen and the aforementioned McDonald’s are some of the more than 60 companies that Russia has on the list of companies to nationalize, according to the Russian newspaper Izvestia.
The Washington Post adds that government sources argue that Russia can ignore patents owned by companies from other countries if Moscow considers them hostile.
In a letter to his staff, the president and CEO of McDonald’s, Chris Kempckinski, justified that the closure of the restaurants is the correct measure because the company cannot ignore the unnecessary suffering that is being caused to the Ukrainian population.
Food trucks shaped like matryoshkas next to the closed McDonalds
As they prepare to open Uncle Vania, 16 have already been installed in Moscow food trucks near the closed McDonald’s, as announced Thursday by Alexi Nemeriuk, head of the capital’s department of commerce and services.
“During the three days of the Crimean Spring Festival – which is held this weekend – 16 food trucks have settled in Moscow. Not only is there a matryoshka shape, there are also other models. They have been installed next to McDonald’s restaurants and will serve hamburgers and pancakes.” he told the Moscow news agency.
In this video published by the Russian agency, you can see the Russian doll-shaped food trucks and the other models, such as hot dog-shaped trucks.