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Business

Filmmakers plan to start Russian fast-food chain

Russians are tired of burgers, Russian state television has alleged. But two filmmaker brothers hope to solve this problem by launching a domestic fast-food chain as an alternative to Western restaurants like McDonald's.

Russian authorities have promised millions of dollars to help two leading filmmaker brothers start a domestic fast food chain, as a rival to Western fast-food giants like McDonald's, according to local media reports.

Nikita Mikhalkov and brother Andrei Konchalovsky have received a 700-million-ruble ($13.5-million, 12.7-million-euro) loan from the state, after writing to President Vladimir Putin for funding, Russian news agency RBK reported on Friday.

The appearance of a domestic fast-food chain would come at a time when the Russian President is seeking greater visibility for domestic products and industry in response to Western sanctions.

Russian business daily Kommersant also reported the idea had impressed Putin, who had asked the government to study the brothers' proposal.

The brothers said the goal of their enterprise was "to promote import substitution and create alternatives to Western fast-food chains," Kommersant added.

This network of cafes and catering facilities would be called "Eat at Home" and feature Russian products, although the newspaper didn't specify what dishes would be served.

Russia had banned some food imports from Europe in response to Western sanctions imposed on Moscow over its role in the Ukraine conflict.

Putin has said the crisis offers a chance to promote Russian products and industry.

Criticism on social media

State television praised the project on Friday, saying Russians were tired of burgers. But not everyone was happy with the news.

"The state does not normally interfere in the catering industry," tweeted former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, adding the brothers' chain would "create more problems for Russian small businesses… than competition for McDonald's."

Mikhalkov, 69, directed the 1994 film "Burnt by the Sun," which went on to win the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Popular releases for Konchalovsky, 77, included "Maria's Lovers," "Runaway Train" and "Tango & Cash."

el/hg (Reuters, AFP)

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