Exodus of 'iconic' American companies

Exodus of ‘iconic’ American companies is taking psychic toll on Russians

Either way, Russia watchers say, the corporate exodus is already having a profound psychological impact on a country that is becoming more and more isolated as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attack on Ukraine enters its third week.

“So yes, the departure of a McDonald’s or Coca-Cola is bound to have a psychological effect on the Russians.”

The experts weighed in as the trickle of Western companies abandoning Russia turned in a torrent this week, with Goldman Sachs on Thursday becoming the first major Wall Street bank to exit the Russian market.

Burger King, Crocs and Hugo Boss on Thursday joined the growing list of retailers and fast-food companies that are closing their stores or ceasing operations in Russia, while the Hilton hotel chain shut its corporate offices in Moscow and Sony and Nintendo announced they would stop selling video games and consoles in the country “for the foreseeable future.”

For the Russians who were around when the Cold War officially ended in 1991 and Moscow started opening up economically to the West, the decision by Yum! Brands to shutter its Pizza Hut restaurants was especially poignant.

“Russians are now living in a country where the newspapers can’t even call what’s going on in Ukraine a war and where Putin controls everything that people see on TV and the radio,” Petrovsky-Shtern said.

“They do not want to find themselves in yet another North Korea,” he said. “One of the biggest stories that is not being reported is about thousands of middle-class Russians who are voting with their feet and fleeing the country for Kazakhstan, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, and Georgia because they fear losing their standard of living and fear being drafted to fight in this war they don’t want.”