McDonald's announced earlier today that it has closed its three Crimea restaurants, calling it "strictly a business decision which has nothing to do with politics."
According to an Associated Press report, the company said it's evaluating "potential business and regulatory implications" in relation to Russia's annexation of Crimea, which has led to restrictions on financial and banking services on the peninsula.
The fast food chain says it hopes to reopen the locations "as soon as possible." In the meantime, it's offering affected workers new positions at its Ukrainian restaurants, along with relocation pay.
In response, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the Russia Parliament's deputy speaker, said on Russian television that he wants to see McDonald's leave Russia entirely. Zhirinovsky added that the nationalistic Liberal Democratic party he belongs to will be organizing protests at some of the 400 McDonald's locations across the country. The AP reports however that other pro-Kremlin officials say the government has no plans to shut down any McDonald's locations.
The announcement is just one addition to a growing list of small changes in Crimea since it was annexed by Russia last month. Swiss-headquartered Universal Postal Deutsche Post said earlier this week it will not be able accept outgoing mail to the peninsula anymore, stating that delivery could no longer be guaranteed. And hundreds of heroin addicts in Crimea have been cut off from a methadone program that has helped curb rising HIV rates around Ukraine since 2012.
Below, scenes from McDonald's shuttered Simferopol location earlier today: