MOSCOW (Reuters) - Two leading Russian film directors are seeking state support to set up a domestic chain of cafes to compete with Western fast food restaurants such as McDonald‘s, a newspaper said on Thursday.
Russian business daily Kommersant said Oscar-winner Nikita Mikhalkov and brother Andrei Konchalovsky had impressed Vladimir Putin with the idea, an apparent show of patriotism at a time when the president is seeking greater prominence for Russian products and industry in response to western sanctions.
Putin has asked the government to study the brothers’ proposal, it said. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment, though he said Putin had had a meeting with Mikhalkov. Neither director was immediately available for comment.
Kommersant said the directors had written to Putin on March 16 to seek help in the creation of a network of cafes and catering facilities under the name “Eat at home!”.
It said they would use a lot of Russian products but did not specify what dishes the cafes might serve.
“The goal of this project is to promote import substitution and create alternatives to Western fast food chains,” it quoted the brothers as saying in an outline of their plans.
Kommersant said they needed 971.8 million rubles ($18.7 million) to launch the pilot project in Moscow and the Kaluga region.
Russia banned some food imports from Europe in response to Western economic sanctions imposed on Moscow over Russia’s role in the conflict in Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists rose up against government forces more than a year ago.
Putin has said the crisis offers a chance to promote Russian products and industry. He has also whipped up patriotism and anti-Western sentiment during the crisis and his popularity in Russia surged after he annexed Crimea from Ukraine last year.
Mikhalkov, 69, whose film “Burnt by the Sun” won the 1994 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, is an outspoken supporter of the president. Konchalovsky, 77, whose films include Hollywood productions “Tango & Cash” and “Runaway Train”, has been more circumspect in his political views.($1 = 51.9700 rubles)
Reporting by Timothy Heritage, editing by Elizabeth Piper and John Stonestreet