Health, News

Russia Closes Down Nine McDonald’s Restaurants

McDonald's in Moscow, Russia. Image: Francis Bourgouin
McDonald’s in Moscow, Russia. Image: Francis Bourgouin

People in Russia remember waiting more than eight hours to taste their first Big Mac. The line-up was hundreds of people long, snaking back and forth along the sidewalk.

That was 1990, when the first McDonald’s restaurant opened in Russia, in Moscow’s Pushkin Square.

Back then, most Russians didn’t know what “fast food” was. Many of them thought McDonald’s was a normal, sit-down restaurant and were surprised when they discovered the difference.

For many Russians, it was their first taste of Western culture.

Now, Russia is closing that famous McDonald’s restaurant as well as eight others in Yekaterinburg, Volgograd and Sochi. And 200 other McDonald’s restaurants are “under investigation.”

McDonald’s issued a statement saying it, “does not agree with the (Russian) court’s decision and will appeal against it in the superior court.”

Many people believe the closures are being made for political reasons. They say Russia is trying to block Western influences from Russia.

Things are tense between the Russian and American governments because of recent events in Ukraine.  (For more information about those events, see TKN’s coverage of Ukraine.)

By closing down McDonald’s restaurants—which is a type of “symbol” of life in the West—Russians are sending a signal to Russians and the world that they are returning to their roots.

One man living in Russia told CBC News that many Russians support the closures. Mitya Kushelevich said Russians are tired of Western food and “see McDonald’s as bad, unhealthy and something made to harm Russian citizens.”

The statement from McDonald’s says they “will continue taking care of our employees and will do our best to continue the success of McDonald’s business in Russia.”

By Kathleen Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
The article explains that the McDonald’s restaurants are not being closed because people don’t like the food; they are being closed “for political reasons.” It states, “They say Russia is trying to block Western influences from Russia.”

In what ways could the West (North America) influence Russia besides food?

Reading Prompt: Elements of Style
A metaphor is used to make a comparison between two nouns. A metaphor can be a word or a phrase.

For example, a metaphor in the article is: “For many Russians, it was their first taste of Western culture.” Russians did not taste Western culture; they ate hamburgers and fries. By trying McDonald’s, they got to try some Western food.

Explain what the following metaphors mean:
1. Time is money.
2. Life is a roller coaster.
3. He is a star.
4. Her heart was like ice.
5. They are night owls.

Junior and Intermediate
Identify various elements of style – including word choice and the use of similes, personification, comparative adjectives, and sentences of different types, lengths, and structures – and explain how they help communicate meaning (OME, Reading: 2.4).

Language Feature: Slogans
McDonald’s slogan is “I’m lovin’ it.” Explain what that means.

Come up with a slogan for your school or your family.