MOSCOW - McDonald's has "temporarily" suspended operations at its restaurants in Crimea, citing only "manufacturing reasons" out of its control. The fast-food chain's locations in the cities of Simferopol, Sevastopol, and Yalta were affected.
A statement on the company's Ukrainian website said it hoped to resume operations as soon as possible. McDonald's made no mention of Crimea's controversial annexation by Russia last month, but the company appeared to make a few subtle political swipes in its statement
The restaurant offered Crimean employees a comparable position at a McDonald's restaurant in Ukraine and offered to pay for relocation expenses plus three months of housing. The company also said that employees who wish to remain in Crimea will be able to terminate their employment, but only under Ukrainian law, not Russian law.
A firebrand Russian lawmaker responded to the news swiftly.
Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the outspoken nationalist leader of the Liberal Democrat Party, threatened to shut down McDonald's operations in the rest of Russia and warned that Pepsi could be next. He called for pickets outside of McDonald's restaurants, according to Russian news reports.
Zhirinovsky's threats are rarely endorsed by the Kremlin and it is unclear whether it will adopt his suggestion this time.
Crimea's first deputy prime minister suggested Russian fast-food chains would quickly fill the void.
"Russia has a lot of its own cafe chains, including fast food, and they can promptly take this niche," Rustam Temirgaliyev said, according to Russia's Interfax news agency.