By Jonny Tickle
A Russian woman who claims she broke her religious fast because of an advertisement for McDonald’s is taking the American fast-food chain to court, demanding compensation. The billboard enticed her to buy a cheeseburger, she says.
According to the press service of Moscow’s Zamoskvoretsky Court, the complainant, from the Siberian city of Omsk, was observing Lent, a seven-week-long Christian festival of sacrifice, during which believers abstain from certain foods, such as meat. In April 2019, mid-way through this religious period, Ksenia Ovchinnikova was walking down Omsk’s Karl Marx Street when she saw a McDonald’s advertisement for a cheeseburger and Chicken McNuggets. Ovchinnikova claims that the poster violated her religious feelings and forced her to buy a cheeseburger, causing her to fail in her observance of Lent for the first time in 16 years.
“At this point, the fasting had been going on for about a month. When I saw the advertising banner, I couldn’t help myself and visited McDonald’s and bought a cheeseburger,” Ovchinnikova said in the lawsuit.
She is now demanding moral compensation of 1,000 rubles ($13.50) from the fast-food chain.
In response to Ovchinnikova, a source from the Russian Orthodox Church’s Moscow Patriarchate told RIA Novosti that the woman should seek forgiveness in the eyes of God instead of compensation from McDonald’s.
“I advise her to go to confession, not to court,” the source said.
Last year, a poll conducted by the Levada Center revealed that just 2% of Russians observe the full seven-week Lenten fast, with 73% maintaining their usual diet. According to the rules of Orthodox Christianity, observing Lent means giving up all animal products, while many also abstain from alcohol and smoking. The Levada Center is registered by Russia’s Ministry of Justice as a foreign agent.