Fact Check: Viral video of opening of Uncle Vanya in place of McDonald’s in Russia is a digital creation made for fun

A short video is going viral on social media claiming to be the opening of the first Uncle Vanya outlet in Russia. (Photo: India Today/Bechu S )

Fast-food chain McDonald’s had joined the wagon of companies to shut shop in Russia following the invasion of Ukraine. McDonald’s Corporation announced on March 8 the temporary closure of all 847 outlets in Russia — nearly two weeks after Vladimir Putin’s forces invaded Ukraine.

Not long after this development, a native fast-food chain called Uncle Vanya made news of being the alleged replacement for the US food giant. They even filed to trademark a logo that resembled McDonald’s iconic Golden Arches.

A short video is viral on social media claiming to be the opening of the first Uncle Vanya outlet in Russia. “JUST IN: First ‘Uncle Vanya’ restaurant opens in Moscow,” one such tweet read.

Similar claims have been archived here and here.

The India Today Anti Fake News War Room has found that the claim is misleading. The video is a work of humour by a Russian 3D artist mistaken for real by several social media users.

AFWA Probe

What is Uncle Vanya?

On March 18, several media organisations revealed that Russian fast-food chain Uncle Vanya filed to trademark a McDonald’s lookalike logo. The firm was looking to become “Russia’s own McDonald’s”, some reports stated.

According to the New York Post, the trademark application appeared online after Russian officials indicated the removal of patent protection for companies linked to countries deemed hostile to Russia. It was seen as a response to the international sanctions and exodus of foreign companies in response to the Ukraine invasion.

The video showed a youth staring at a restaurant with the “B” logo of Uncle Vanya on top. “Opening Soon”, the Russian inscription on the red veil that covered the windowpanes read. However, once the veil is dropped, the golden arches of McDonald’s get revealed — hinting that the US company used to operate there before.

We ran a keyword search to check if the chain has started operations in Russia. However, apart from some YouTube videos and Reddit posts that carried the video in question, there was no other information.

But, a similar search on Russian search engine Yandex took us to a fact-check article that denied reports of the first Uncle Vanya outlet opening in Moscow. The image used in this report was a screenshot of the viral video.

According to this report, the footage from the opening ceremony shared by some Ukrainian and Russian media was a work by 3D artist Gleb Mazur. He attempted to demonstrate how the Russian restaurant could look where a McDonald’s outlet used to stand.

Following this clue, we checked Gleb Mazur‘s Instagram handle. The video was uploaded here on March 24, 2022.

Gleb confirmed that the video is not real but an artistic creation of his.

“The video was shot in Saint Petersburg. I used 3D graphics to create the opening of the restaurant the way I had pictured it in my imagination. In reality, there is no Uncle Vanya outlet here yet,” Gleb Mazur told us over Instagram.

“I had no intention to create fake news. Some media took my work without permission and shared it as of a real incident without mentioning my name anywhere,” he added.

Gleb shared the source video he used to create the 3D clip. There was no veil in the footage and the board that showed Uncle Vanya’s logo in the viral video was left blank in white.

This proved that the video is not real. We resumed our search on Yandex for any accurate information on when and where the chain will start its business. But we couldn’t find anything.

Although we couldn’t confirm if Uncle Vanya fast-food chain is open for business in Russian cities or not, it is proved that the video in question is digitally altered. A work of art created for entertainment was shared by many people as real footage.

(With inputs from Sanjana Saxena in Lucknow)

INDIA TODAY FACT CHECK

Fact Check

Claim

Video shows first ‘Uncle Vanya’ restaurant opens in Moscow after McDonald’s suspends business in Russia

Conclusion

This is not a real video. It was created by a Russian 3D artist in St. Petersburg. While the Uncle Vanya outlets are expected to replace the now-closed McDonald’s in Russia, there is no information of them having opened any stalls in Moscow yet.

JHOOTH BOLE KAUVA KAATE

The number of crows determines the intensity of the lie.

  • 1 Crow: Half True
  • 2 Crows: Mostly lies
  • 3 Crows: Absolutely false

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