Russia May Label McDonald’s a 'Foreign Agent' Hell-Bent on Damaging People's Health

A Russian politician proposed labeling American fast food chains like McDonald's and KFC as foreign agents on Friday, following recently passed legislation which provides the same classification for international news outlets.

Boris Chernyshov, a 26-year-old Moscow lawmaker in the federal Russian Assembly, described advertisements made by American restaurants for Russian consumers as manipulative and nontransparent about their longterm health effects in an interview with the RBC Business Portal. The State Duma deputy added that chains like McDonald’s, available across Russia, were contributing to the decline of the nation's cuisine, according to local reports.

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"The food sold by American fast food restaurants, according to some studies, negatively affects the body and human health," Chernyshov said. "In advertising, a positive image of consumption of these products is presented."

RTX2YYF1 A McDonald's employee holding a tray of Big Mac burgers at their fast food restaurant in central Moscow, Russia January 31, 2017. Reuters

Chernyshov’s targeting of America’s fast food restaurants throughout the region is nothing new. McDonald’s has been in the line of fire of a years-long sanctions war between both countries, critics say, with Russia moving to close many of the restaurant's locations since 2014, citing "sanitary violations."

The latest measure to classify news outlets like CNN and Washington Post as foreign agents followed the U.S. requiring Russian outlets like RT and Sputnik to register under the same label. Not even three days later, the Russian lawmaker took the tit-for-tat a step further by once again pulling food chains into the feud.

"The first step is to recognize the advertising of American fast food by the messages of foreign agents and to introduce the appropriate marking," he said. "The second step will be the legislative initiative to include American fast food networks in the appropriate registry."

RTR4351K A woman taking a picture of a closed McDonald's restaurant in Moscow, August 20, 2014. Russia ordered the temporary closure of four McDonald's restaurants in Moscow on Wednesday, a decision it said was over sanitary violations but which arrived against a backdrop of worsening U.S.-Russian ties over Ukraine. Reuters

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to sign the bill requiring international news outlets to include themselves in the foreign agent registry. Chernyshov’s addition, which is not included in the current bill moving through Russia’s parliament, would force all American food chains and restaurants operating throughout the country to do the same.

McDonald's employed over 35,000 people in Russia, featuring at least 430 restaurants across the country as of 2014. It remains unclear what implications the relabeling could have on current operations and Russian staff for the American chain.