April 4, 2014 1:53 pm
Updated: April 4, 2014 1:57 pm

No fast food nation – McDonald’s closes its three outlets in Crimea

A man and a little girl look at a closed McDonald's in the Crimean capital Simferopol on April 4, 2014. US fast food giant McDonald's said today it was temporarily shutting its three stores in Crimea following the Ukrainian peninsula's annexation by Russia.

Yury Lashov (AFP)/Getty Images

The Golden Arches have gone dark in the cities of Simferopol, Sevastopol and Yalta, as McDonald’s announced it was suspending operations in Crimea.

A translated message on McDonald’s Ukrainian website said the reason for the suspension was “[d]ue to manufacturing reason independent” of the U.S. company.

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But the American fast food giant said it would offer any employee at its three restaurants on the peninsula the opportunity to relocate to another outlet – in Ukraine – and said they would be able to maintain their positions and salaries.

McDonald’s also offered to pay the cost of relocating the employees and their families to a Ukrainian city and said it would provide them housing for up to three months.

Reuters reported the three shuttered restaurants were not franchises and were owned outright by McDonald’s.

For those not considering a transfer to one of the more than 70 McDonald’s restaurants throughout Ukraine, the company will arrange options to terminate their employment “with the best interest of employees and payment of compensation.”

Crimeans voted in a referendum last month to secede from Ukraine and reunify with Russia, in a poll that has been called illegitimate by many Western governments.

The McDonald’s statement did not mention Russia’s annexation of Crimea or Western sanctions against prominent Russians and Russian banks.

But there was not an option to transfer to one of the more than 400 locations within Russia.

At least one prominent Russian politician is angered with the decision to cease offering Big Macs and Happy Meals to Crimeans.

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Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky demanded on Friday that Russia shut down every McDonald’s restaurant in the Russian Federation.

“We will close them all over the country, and then we’ll deal with Pepsi,” Russia’s ITAR-TASS reported Zhirinovsky saying. He also called for protests outside McDonald’s restaurants in Moscow.

Zhirinovski did not elaborate on why he had a beef with the soft drink manufacturer, but Pepsi’s second biggest market, after the U.S., is Russia. The Russian market accounts for seven per cent of Pepsi Co.’s global revenue and it owns a number of other Russian beverage-making companies.

Last week, U.S. Senator John McCain suggested major American companies – including Pepsi – may have to curb their business in Russia, should the U.S. government impose further and stricter economic sanctions on Russia.

There is one other fast-food sanction that has come out of the diplomatic row between Russia and the U.S.: Buffalo, NY-based Mexican restaurant chain Mighty Taco has officially banned Putin from all 23 of its locations across western New York state.

© 2014 Shaw Media

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