Western Ukraine wanted to be European. They wanted to be with the United States, and of course in the efforts to “contain Russia,” the American government was only too happy to help, sending people like the late Senator John McCain, Sam Brownback and others to remake the land that is historically the very heart of Russia into just another Western enclave. But the opening of a US-based Kentucky Fried Chicken store in a building that served as a makeshift hospital in the bloody days of the coup has drawn the ire of these same Ukrainian people.
The opening of a KFC outlet in Kiev, in a landmark building that played a central role in Ukraine’s fateful 2013-14 revolution, sparked public anger and protests that forced it Thursday to temporarily shut its doors.
The US-branded fast-food restaurant opened on Wednesday — the day Ukrainians marked the fifth anniversary of the revolution’s start.
It is located at an address on Kiev’s Maidan square that served as a makeshift hospital in the bloody final days of the uprising in February 2014 which resulted in the toppling of the pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych, and during which the building was gutted by fire.
For many Ukrainians, the presence of the fried-chicken joint in the building disgraced the memory of the dozens of people killed by snipers and police in the unrest.
Far-right protesters demonstrated in front of the outlet on Wednesday, and six of them arrested. On Thursday, public anger swelled as internet users posted scathing messages on the Facebook page of KFC Ukraine.
“How can you open your restaurant in a place where people died fighting for a free Ukraine?” read one message.
“The people won’t tolerate such an outrage,” warned another.
This did result in the temporary closure of the restaurant. Now, while KFC is a US-based chain, the company’s restaurants are franchises, and this one was actually owned by a franchise licensee.
UNIAN news reported that the reaction to this was indeed, outrage. It should be noted that UNIAN is a very pro-Western publication, and very much nationalist Ukrainian, referring to the Maidan as the “Revolution of Dignity.” Their bias shows in this section of their report:
Ukrainian activist Roman Sinicyn noted a curious fact that, according to the U.S.-based YUM!, which owns KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, Ukraine is considered part of the region managed from Russia’s office.All management decisions, as well as those on human resources, personnel training, and coordination of locations for restaurants and concepts, are made in the company’s Russian office, the activist says.On Thursday, November 22, came the report that a Ukrainian PR company, MAINSTREAM, that had been working with [the] KFC representative in Ukraine YUM! Brands terminated their contract because of the opening of a restaurant in the Trade Unions House at the Maidan.The company stated that, despite all risks laid out and warnings related to the opening of a restaurant in the Trade Unions House, they fall on deaf ears at the KFC office.“The communication that the client insists on is contrary to the ethical standards and values of our company. In this regard, we stop cooperating with YUM! Brands,” the statement said. “We remember and honor the tragic events on the Maidan. We took an active part in the Revolution of Dignity and share the aspiration of our people to the European path of development. We apologize to all Ukrainians for the decisions taken by KFC. We are very sorry that we could not convey to investors the importance and inviolability of the memory of those killed during the Revolution of Dignity,” said Svitlana Sverchkova, managing director at MAINSTREAM.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.