A Russian businessman pay all 62,000 of McDonald’s employees in the country following the fast-food chain’s exit

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Choi Jung Hun, a former North Korean doctor who resettled in South Korea, suspects North Korea is using its pandemic response as a tool to promote Kim’s image as a leader who cares about the public and to solidify internal unity. He says the country’s understated fatalities could also be exploited as a propaganda tool. “One day, they’ll say they’ve contained COVID-19. By comparing its death toll with that of the U.S. and South Korea, they’ll say they’ve done a really good job and their anti-epidemic system is the world’s best,” said Choi, now a researcher at a Korea University-affiliated institute in South Korea.

McDonald’s has sold its business in Russia to a local licensee who already runs 25 of the fast-food chain’s restaurants in Siberia, it announced Thursday.

Russian businessman Alexander Govor has agreed to operate all of the restaurants owned by McDonald’s under a new brand.

The burger chain grew its business to nearly 850 locations in Russia after it opened its first outlet in the country in Moscow’s Pushkin Square in 1990. Before its pullout, McDonald’s owned around 84% of its restaurants in the country.

Govor ran his licensed McDonald’s branches through a company he owns called GiD LLC, which is described as being part of the restaurant industry. 

According to Reuters, he is also listed as a co-owner of a rental company called Siberian Distribution Centre and the Anzherkiy Oil refinery. Govor also has stakes in a small forestry company and a fishing and hunting company, the outlet reported, citing the Interfax news agency’s Spark database.

Part of the deal with Govor entails him hiring and continuing to pay all of the employees working for McDonald’s in Russia for the next two years, McDonald’s said. No details of the rebranding have been revealed.

Govor has also agreed to pay the salaries of all McDonald’s corporate staff in Russia until closing and fund existing liabilities to suppliers, landlords, and utility companies, its Thursday statement read.

The fast-food company had around 62,000 employees in Russia when it announced earlier this week that it would exit the country in solidarity with Western sanctions and in response to the “humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.”

Govor and McDonald’s didn’t disclose any of the deal’s financials. The company said on Monday that it would take a non-cash charge of about $1.2 billion to $1.4 billion as a result of its exit from Russia.

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