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A pro-Putin rapper has reopened former Starbucks coffee shops under a strikingly similar name — Stars Coffee.
Seattle-based Starbucks announced in May it was exiting the Russian market after nearly 15 years as it joined hundreds of other major Western brands that have left the country following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Starbucks had 130 stores across Russia and employed nearly 2,000 people.
Image 1 of 4 A worker removes a cover from the name of a newly opened Stars Coffee coffee shop in the former location of the Starbucks coffee shop in Moscow, Russia. | AP Images
On Thursday, Russian rapper Timati and restaurateur Anton Pinskiy, the duo that acquired the rights to the chain in Russia, attended the opening of the first of the 130 cafés previously owned by Starbucks.
Timati is also known for his support of the Kremlin and in 2015 released a song entitled, "My Best Friend is Vladimir Putin," which describes the president as a "superhero."
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Timati presented the brands new logo, which features a siren with the traditional Russian
kokoshnik headdress, similar to Starbucks's iconic siren.
Banned from using the Starbucks logo, Timati told Reuters they had sought to find some continuity, namely the circular shape and "female gender", which he said contrasted nicely with the brown, cigar-like "masculine color" in the new logo.
"People's perceptions may be different," said Pinskiy. "But if you compare, then apart from the circle, you won't find anything in common."
Starbucks did not immediately comment to Fox News Digital's request on the similarity of the logo and name, but referred to an earlier statement in which it said the company had made the decision to exit, and no longer had a brand presence in the Russian market.
Image 1 of 2 People gather to visit a newly opened Stars Coffee coffee shop in the former location of the Starbucks coffee shop in Moscow, Russia. | AP Images RUSSIA'S GAZPROM SLASHES NATURAL GAS FLOW TO GERMANY
Because Starbucks had its own resource and production base, Timati said the duo had to find new suppliers, but they had encountered no problems.
Stars Coffee imports beans from Latin America and Africa, Pinskiy said, with suppliers of other items based in Russia.
"We just found other suppliers, found the right roasters, and because the baristas mixed it all correctly, we have a product that we think will be competitive," he said.
Pinskiy said shops would gradually reopen throughout August and September.
Global franchise operator Alshaya, established in Kuwait, had lost interest in doing business after Starbucks pulled its brand from Russia, Timati told Reuters.
"We won the tender – there were a lot of participants – acquired it and made our own brand," he said.
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The pair said they were interested in more acquisitions, but gave no further details.
Reuters contributed to this post.
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