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Pro-Kremlin Rapper Unveils Starbucks' Russian Successor

Stars Coffee on Novy Arbat in Moscow. Denis Voronin / Moskva News Agency

The rebranded Russian successor of the Starbucks coffee shop chain has opened with a localized logo, the latest rebranding of a Western franchise that had left the country over its invasion of Ukraine.

Starbucks, which employed 2,000 people across its 130 stores in Russia, suspended work and deliveries into Russia on March 10. The Seattle-based company announced a full exit from Russia in May after nearly 15 years in the market.

Stars Coffee, the renamed former Starbucks chain, opened its first coffee shop in central Moscow on Thursday.

Co-owners Timur Yunusov, a famous pro-Kremlin rapper known as Timati, and restaurateur Anton Pinskiy, presented the new brand with a logo that closely resembles the iconic Starbucks siren.

The siren has been replaced by a woman wearing a Russian headdress called a kokoshnik instead of a crown.

“Apart from the circle, you won’t find anything in common” between the Starbucks and Stars Coffee logos, Pinskiy told Reuters.

Starbucks, whose Russian locations had been estimated to represent less than 1% of the company's annual revenues, declined to comment on the similarity between its logo and name.

Among Stars Coffee’s other replacements is Starbucks’ famous Frappuccino blended ice coffee drink being sold as “Frappucito,” according to the RBC news website.

The new Stars Coffee franchise is scheduled to open 10 more Moscow shops later this month, then fully reopen across the country in September.

A total of 90 Stars Coffee shops are expected to operate in Moscow along with 15 in St. Petersburg and 15 in other cities. 

The rest will jointly operate with Redbox, a pan-Asian restaurant also owned by Timati and Pinskiy.

“It will be a combined sushi bar with a coffee shop. There will also be several premium outlets, they’ll be more like restaurants with alcohol and a different menu,” Timati told RBC.

Stars Coffee is the latest example of a major Western brand selling its assets to Russian owners, with McDonalds, Deloitte, Ernst & Young all restarting operations under new names and ownership.

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