Russia: Flagship McDonald's reopens despite protests

Staff at the Moscow McDonald's applaud its reopening Image copyright AFP
Image caption Happy meal: Customers and staff applauded the reopening of the Pushkin Square McDonald's

Russia's oldest McDonald's has reopened after a three-month closure which was ordered by the authorities.

The shutdown was ostensibly for health violations, but it has been seen by some as retaliation for Western sanctions against Russia, The Moscow Times reports. The flagship restaurant on Moscow's Pushkin Square was filled with balloons for its grand lunchtime reopening on 19 November, and hungry customers immediately formed queues at each counter, the Interfax news agency says. One of them was Nina Petrova, an 80-year-old woman in a fur hat, who told Rossiya 24 TV that she was there for her favourite pie with ice cream. Ms Petrova says she has been visiting the eatery for breakfast every morning since it opened in 1990. But not everyone's happy. "We are categorically against this opening and will continue our struggle for the closure of this chain throughout the country," says Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of the far-right LDPR party. According to Rossiya 24, one survey suggests 60% of Russians think all McDonald's restaurants should be closed.

The Pushkin Square restaurant first opened in January 1990, when queues stretched around the block as Soviet citizens clamoured to try American fast food for the first time in their lives. The presence of McDonald's was a symbol of Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev's policy of glasnost - or openness - that helped to end the Cold War.

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