[Marxism] Putin's most revolutionary act

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Aug 21 06:06:18 MDT 2014

Russia closes McDonald's restaurants for 'sanitary violations'
Consumer watchdog closes four Moscow branches following inspections, in 
move seen by critics as part of sanctions war

Alec Luhn in Moscow
The Guardian, Wednesday 20 August 2014 15.47 EDT

Russia has shut down four McDonald's restaurants in Moscow for alleged 
sanitary violations in a move critics said was the latest blow in its 
tit-for-tat sanctions tussle with the west.

The federal monitoring service for consumer rights and wellbeing 
announced on Wednesday that the offending outlets included the famous 
restaurant on Pushkin Square that opened just before the fall of the 
Soviet Union. The body said the eateries were being shut down for 
"sanitary violations" discovered during inspections this week.

The agency has a history of banning food from countries out of favour 
with Moscow, and the move will almost certainly be taken as a political 
statement in the sanctions war. It has previously banned wine from 
Georgia and dairy products from Belarus after those two countries began 
to improve relations with the west. This summer, it has banned canned 
vegetables, fruit, fish, juice and certain beer and vodka from Ukraine.

Earlier in August, President Putin ordered an embargo on meat, poultry, 
fish, dairy and produce from the United States, Canada, Australia, 
Norway and the European Union in response to those countries' economic 
sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine crisis.

Employees at the Pushkin Square restaurant and another McDonald's 
directly outside the Kremlin walls said on Wednesday evening they were 
temporarily closed but refused to provide any more information. In a 
statement, McDonald's said it was studying the watchdog's complaints to 
"determine the actions necessary to open our restaurants to customers as 
soon as possible".

The consumer watchdog said inspections would continue in other 
McDonald's restaurants. The chain has 430 restaurants in 70 Russian 
cities and employs more than 35,000 people there.

The complaints about McDonald's date to the end of July, when the 
Novgorod regional branch of the consumer watchdog filed a suit against 
McDonald's, demanding certain burgers and milkshakes be banned in Russia 
on the grounds the fat, protein, carbohydrates and calories they contain 
"deviate widely from technical norms". "Violations have been found that 
put the quality and safety of food products in doubt for the whole 
McDonald's chain," Russia's head sanitary inspector, Anna Popova, said 
at the time.

McDonald's has said it determines nutritional value and calorie counts 
according to guidelines approved by the Russian Academy of Medical 
Sciences. In Russia, the McDonald's company itself runs all its 
restaurants, unlike in most other countries where local franchisees run 
the branches.

Mikhail Goncharov, owner of the Russian fast-food chain Teremok, 
described the consumer watchdog's complaints as politicised, calling 
them a "powerful blow to relations" between the United States and 
Russia. "McDonald's is a leader in the field, especially when it comes 
to standards," Goncharov told the business newspaper RBC Daily. "For 
instance, when we opened our company, we copied them in a lot of ways. 
For us, they were an example of how to work. And not just for us."

McDonald's restaurants in Russia are almost always crowded. Thousands of 
people waited hours in line to try a "Beeg Mek" when the first 
restaurant opened on Pushkin Square in 1990, an event that became 
symbolic for an era of sweeping political and economic changes.

Russian reaction to the restaurants' closure on Twitter was largely 
sardonic, with one user pointing out that McDonald's was the official 
restaurant of the Sochi Olympics.

"I did not speak out when they came for the right to assemble. I did not 
speak out when they came for the right to free speech. BUT I WON'T LET 
THEM TAKE AWAY MY RIGHT TO BE FAT," a user named Mikhail Kafanov tweeted.

"I think crazy patriots would do better to fight in Donetsk rather than 
with McDonald's. If you must fight with something edible, you can fight 
with vodka," tweeted well-known photojournalist Evgeny Feldman.

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