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19th Aug 2022

Pro-Putin rapper reopens former Starbucks coffee shops in Russia

Charlie Herbert

Pro-Putin rapper reopens former Starbucks coffee shops in Russia

The rapper has previously released songs describing Putin as a ‘superhero’

A pro-Putin rapper has been part of the rebranding of a number of coffee shops in Russia that used to be owned by Starbucks.

The chain of shops are now called Stars Coffee and are the latest example of a western chain being rebranded in the country after an exodus of major companies from Russia following the invasion of Ukraine.

Rapper Timati and restaurateur Anton Pinskiy acquired the rights to the coffee shops, and on Thursday they attended the opening of the first of 130 cafes that had previously been owned by Starbucks.

The iconic Starbucks siren has been replaced by a woman wearing the traditional Russian kokoshnik headdress, but is strikingly familiar to the old logo.

Timati, real name Timur Yunusov, has been a vocal supporter of Putin for years, to the extent that he released a song in 2015 called ‘My Best Friend is Vladimir Putin.’

In the song, he describes the Russian leader as a “superhero,” the Guardian reports.

He has also released a pro-government song called ‘Moscow’ in which he boasts that the Russian capital “doesn’t hold gay parades.”

But it clearly didn’t go down very well, becoming the most disliked song in the history of Russian YouTube.

Starbucks was one of several major western chains that decided to withdraw from the Russian market after Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

The coffee chain had been in the country for almost 15 years.

But it has now undergone a Russian rebrand, in a similar vein to the one former McDonald’s restaurants went through.

The fast food chain is now called Vkusno & tochka (“Tasty and that’s it”) but has struggled to keep a lot of the old menu after being hit with western sanctions.

The likes of Starbucks and McDonald’s sold their assets to Kremlin-friendly Russian businesspeople at a discounted price.

With these then undergoing a rebrand and being reopened, Russian authorities hope the populations can be convinced that a western lifestyle is still possible as the country becomes increasingly isolated from the rest of Europe.

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