"People died here!": Clashes on Maidan amid controversial opening of KFC restaurant at tragedy site (Photo, video)
Angry protesters on Wednesday, November 21, staged a rally outside a new KFC chain restaurant that had opened on Kyiv's Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square), more precisely in the recently renovated Trade Unions House, a tragedy site amid the Revolution of Dignity.
On February 19, 2014, when the Revolution of Dignity was raging and government forces started storming the building, a major fire broke out in the building killing at least two activists, while multiple casualties were reported outside that most violent week of the protests.
Later on Wednesday, clashes ensued near the restaurant between protesters and police after the activists brought car tires toward the restaurant entrance, lit fireworks and spray-painted the walls, including with the inscriptions "People died here!" and "Where is your dignity?"
Police made several detentions. During the arrests, tear gas and means of physical force were used, according to reports.
The leader of the nationalist organization С14, Yevhen Karas, specified his organization's members were among the detainees.
Later the same night, all detainees were released.
Kyiv police chief Andriy Kryschenko said the investigators would examine all the materials collected and provide a legal assessment of the incident.
"I'd like to stress that police will not allow hooliganism or any illegal acts in the capital. Therefore, decisions on the operation of catering establishments in the Trade Unions House should be taken in the legal field," said Kryschenko.
He added that an internal probe had been launched into the use of pepper spray by riot police officers.
Amid a major public outcry caused by the reports about the controversial opening of the fast food chain restaurant, Ukraine's netizens took to the internet to express their contempt over KFC's move that did not take into account its implications. A large number of negative comments were left on the restaurant's Facebook page, also posting photos from the scene.
The page admins apparently chose to turn off the function of assessing the profile amid a massive inflow of low marks pulling the rating down to 1.0.
Ukrainian activist Roman Sinicyn noted a curious fact that, according to the U.S.-based Yum, which owns KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, Ukraine is considered part of the region managed from Russia's office. All management decisions, as well as those on human resources, personnel training, and coordination of locations for restaurants and concepts, are made in the company's Russian office, the activist says.
On Thursday, November 22, came the report that a Ukrainian PR company, MAINSTREAM, that had been working with KFC representative in Ukraine YUM! Brands terminated their contract because of the opening of a restaurant in the Trade Unions House at the Maidan.
The company stated that, despite all risks laid out and warnings related to the opening of a restaurant in the Trade Unions House, they fall on deaf ears at the KFC office.
"The communication that the client insists on is contrary to the ethical standards and values of our company. In this regard, we stop cooperating with YUM! Brands," the statement said.
"We remember and honor the tragic events on the Maidan. We took an active part in the Revolution of Dignity and share the aspiration of our people to the European path of development. We apologize to all Ukrainians for the decisions taken by KFC. We are very sorry that we could not convey to investors the importance and inviolability of the memory of those killed during the Revolution of Dignity," said Svitlana Sverchkova, managing director at MAINSTREAM.
On the evening of Thursday, as activists continued their rally, journalist Dmytro Hnap wrote: “After a small scuffle with a restaurant security, a KFC fast food lawyer came out and announced that the place is closing for today. We demand that it be closed forever. Then he went on to call someone.”
As sign was later posted on the door saying that the restaurant is temporarily closed. "Sorry for the inconvenience," it said.