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US sanctions encourage McDonald’s to cook up Russian fries

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French fries at McDonald’s restaurants from Moscow to Murmansk will be Russian from now on, as U.S. sanctions have spurred on a shift by the American fast-food chain to use local potatoes.

McDonald’s Corp (MCD.N), which opened in Russia in 1990 as the Soviet Union collapsed, has turned to Russian ingredients for everything from Big Macs to chicken burgers.

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But till now it relied on frozen French fries from the Netherlands and Poland as Russian spuds weren’t quite right.

 “There was no potato which would suit us in terms of quality – color, taste, size – these are all the details that are important for us,” Khamzat Khasbulatov, chairman of McDonald’s Russia, told Reuters.
 
But swings in the oil price and sanctions by the United States and other Western nations – imposed over Moscow’s annexation of Crimea and other rows – have hit the rouble and led to trade restrictions, causing a headache for any business in Russia that imports or exports goods.
“The rouble’s volatility was one of the major components of our interest in localization,” Khasbulatov said.

Now a new plant near Lipetsk, a city 450 km (280 miles) south of Moscow, using potatoes grown on local farms will supply frozen fries to the chain of 651 outlets across Russia under a long-term contract, raising the share of the chain’s locally sourced products to 98 percent.

“This gives us the possibility to continue our development in a more stable way,” the chairman said. “It minimizes the risks connected to customs and administrative decisions, and guarantees stable, predictable prices in roubles.”

The plant, worth 8.7 billion roubles, was built jointly by Russian agricultural group Belaya Dacha and the Netherlands-based Lamb Weston Meijer, both long-time partners of McDonald’s.

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The factory has capacity to process 200,000 tonnes of potatoes a year, washing, cutting and freezing the vegetables.

The rouble has recovered some ground as the price of oil, a major revenue earner for Russia, has risen from a low in 2016. But Western trade restrictions remain in place.

Russia’s response to punitive measures has included a 2014 ban on a range of Western food imports.

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“Sanctions as well as counter sanctions not only affect our company but the whole industry and the economy,” said Khasbulatov, whose firm has 50,000 Russian employees and more than 160 domestic suppliers.

 
“But in any case we continue our development, continue to build new restaurants and modernize existing ones,” he said, adding that firm opened 41 restaurants in Russia in 2017.

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Editing by Edmund Blair


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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George Conway reveals Trump is being shunned by law firms because young lawyers ‘want nothing to do with him’

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Conservative attorney George Conway asserted in a column over the weekend that President Donald Trump's history of mistreating law firms is catching up with him.

In a Sunday op-ed for The Washington Post, Conway explains that Trump is now faced with sparse choices for legal representation in his impeachment trial after years of not paying attorneys and generally being a bad client.

Pointing to Trump's choice of Alan Dershowitz and Kenneth Starr, Conway writes:

?The president has consistently encountered difficulty in hiring good lawyers to defend him. In 2017, after Robert S. Mueller III became special counsel, Trump couldn’t find a high-end law firm that would take him as a client. His reputation for nonpayment preceded him: One major Manhattan firm I know had once been forced to eat bills for millions in bond work it once did for Trump. No doubt other members of the legal community knew of other examples.

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Texas GOPer Cornyn blames Trump’s problems on campaign ‘grifters’ — then calls Giuliani ‘not relevant’

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Appearing on CBS's “Face the Nation," Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) attempted to blame Donald Trump's impeachment problems on "grifters" who found a way to attach themselves to the now-president when he began to run for president.

Speaking with host Margaret Brennan, Cornyn was asked about allegations made by Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas that have implicated not only the president but Vice President Mike Pence and senior White House officials in an attempt to strongarm the leaders of Ukraine in return for military aid.

"Doesn't it trouble you that [Parnas] was working so closely with Rudy Giuliani, who was acting on the president's behalf and saying he was acting on the president's behalf?" host Brennan asked. "

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‘No sound basis’: Georgetown law professor explains why Alan Dershowitz will crumble under Senate questioning

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Georgetown law professor John Mikhail suggested on Sunday that the portion of President Donald Trump's defense which is being covered by Alan Dershowitz to fail because it has "no sound basis" in history and law.

"There is no sound basis for Alan Dershowitz to claim that abuse of power is not an impeachable offense. In addition to being at odds with common sense, this claim is contradicted by a clear and consistent body of historical evidence," Mikhail stated.

The law professor cited the impeachment of Warren Hastings in the 1780s.

"Some of the best evidence comes from the case of Warren Hastings, which informed the drafting Art. II, Sec 4," Mikhail wrote. "The fact that he was not guilty of treason, but still deserved to be impeached, was a major reason 'other high crimes and misdemeanors' was added to the Constitution."

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