The Kremlin has come a big step closer to its dream of a Russified version of McDonald's: The American fast-food group announced that it had found a buyer for its approximately 850 branches in Russia, namely the Siberian entrepreneur Alexander Govor.

He joined McDonald's as a franchisee in 2014;

most recently, his company managed 25 branches in Siberian cities.

Gowor will now have to rename the stores and design a new menu.

The American group had stipulated that the brand and logo may no longer be used in Russia after a sale, but wants to keep its trademarks in the country.

Catherine Wagner

Business correspondent for Russia and the CIS based in Moscow.

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It is still unclear which name will replace the golden M in the future.

In March, the head of the Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, Vyacheslav Volodin, proposed renaming the fast-food chain “Uncle Vanya's”.

A company then applied for a patent on the name and a logo consisting of the Cyrillic letter W as in Vanya, but which looked like the gold M rotated ninety degrees on a red background, closely resembling the McDonald's logo.

The application was withdrawn in early April.

The patent office explained that brand names and logos that are very similar to the originals are very often registered, such as "Idea" instead of "Ikea".

But such requests were sent again.

Apparently, Russia does not want to risk legal disputes over trademark rights.

“KFC” and “Burger King” are still in Russia

McDonald's, which has been very popular in Russia since 1990, announced in early March that it would temporarily close its branches.

However, Russian media recently reported that every sixth store, around 130 out of 850, is still open because it is run by franchisees.

The restaurants of the competitors “KFC” and “Burger King” are also still in operation.

The new McDonald's owner, 61-year-old Govor, began his career as a simple coal miner and soon worked his way up to the management of the state-owned coal company Kuznyezkugol.

In the mid-2000s, Gowor had to sell his shares in the group after serious accidents in the mines.

He invested the money in an oil and chemical company, hotels and private clinics.

Govor's son, who is a deputy for the Kremlin's United Russia party in the family's home region of Kemerovo Oblast, posted a video supporting Russia's war on Ukraine on Instagram in early March.

His father also has connections to the power party.

The agreement that has now been reached with McDonald's, which still has to be converted into final purchase agreements, stipulates that Gowor will take over the employees of the branches and will not change the conditions of the employment contracts for at least two years.

In addition, Gowor must pay the salaries of the employees of the McDonald's headquarters in Russia until they are liquidated.

McDonald's recently paid around $55 million a month for rent and salaries for its approximately 62,000 employees in Russia.