The Soviet Union's first McDonald's fast food restaurant opens in Moscow. Throngs of people line up to pay the equivalent of several days' wages for Big Macs, shakes, and french fries. The appearance of this notorious symbol of capitalism and the enthusiastic reception it received from the Russian people were signs that times were changing in the Soviet Union. For the average Russian customer, however, visiting the restaurant was less a political statement than an opportunity to enjoy a small pleasure in a country still reeling from disastrous economic problems and internal political turmoil. The arrival of McDonald's in Moscow was a small but certain sign that change was on the horizon. In fact, less than two years later, the Soviet Union ceased to exist as a nation, Mikhail Gorbachev resigned as leader of the country, and various Soviet republics proclaimed their independence.