[Marxism] Putin's most revolutionary act
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
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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