McDonald's closes restaurants in Crimea

Fast-food chain offers to relocate Crimean staff to Ukrainian restaurants

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The Independent Online

McDonald's has closed its restaurants in Crimea citing "manufacturing reasons", becoming the second international company to halt operations in the Black Sea peninsula under Russian control.

The US fast-food chain offered to relocate staff to its Ukrainian restaurants on a permanent basis, hinting that it does not expect to re-open its restaurants in Simferopol, Sevastopol and Yalta any time soon.

Employees wishing to leave Crimea would keep their job, salary and and receive relocation benefits for themselves and their families, including three months' rent, McDonald's said in a statement on its Ukrainian website.

It added: "If an employee does not consider the possibility to move to another city in Ukraine, we offers options, according to the legislation of Ukraine, to terminate their employment with a redundancy payment."

The closure comes shortly after Geneva-based Universal Postal Union (UPU) said it could no longer accept letters for Crimea as delivery could not be guaranteed.

Crimeans voted to leave Ukraine for the Russian Federation on 16 March following a controversial referendum condemned as illegal by Kiev and the West.

The US and the European have imposed economic sanctions on wealthy Russian businessmen and individuals with close links to President Vladimir Putin, while also threatening to launch wider sanctions on the Russian economy if Moscow steps further into Ukraine.