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The fast good giant pointed to the humanitarian crisis caused by Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine, saying holding on to business in Russia 'is no longer tenable, nor is it consistent with McDonald’s values'.
As it attempts to start selling off restaurants, McDonald's said it plans to begin removing golden arches and other symbols or signs associated with the company. It added that it will keep its trademarks in Russia.
CEO Chris Kempczinski said the 'dedication and loyalty to McDonald’s' of employees and hundreds of Russian suppliers made it a difficult decision to leave.
He said in a statement: “However, we have a commitment to our global community and must remain steadfast in our values, and our commitment to our values means that we can no longer keep the arches shining there.”
The fast food outlet first arrived on 21 January 1990, during the final months of the Soviet Union, with 30,000 people reported to have queued the first day it opened.
However, in early March of this year, the company announced it was temporarily closing its stores in Russia amid the ongoing conflict with Ukraine, but said it would continue to pay employees.
At the time, Kempczinski said the temporary closure was due to the unspeakable suffering to innocent people’ in Ukraine, saying in an email: "As a System, we join the world in condemning aggression and violence and praying for peace. Our number one priority from the start of this crisis has been – and will remain – our people."
The company has also donated $5 million to its Employee Assistance Fund, and supports ‘relief efforts led by the International Red Cross in the region’.
Today, 16 May, it confirmed it would seek to have a Russian buyer hire those workers, and pay the employees until the sale closes.
After McDonald's stores in Russia were closed earlier this year, Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of the lower house of parliament, the State Duma, said Russian-branded restaurants should take over McDonald’s locations.
“They announced they are closing" he said, according to the Washington Post. "Well, okay, close. But tomorrow in those locations we should have not McDonald’s, but Uncle Vanya’s.
“Jobs must be preserved and prices reduced.”
Fast food chain Uncle Vanya's was expected to step up as a replacement – with many people saying the suggested logo for the brand looked somewhat familiar.
Meanwhile, McDonald's restaurants in Ukraine are currently closed, but the company has said it is continuing to pay full salaries for its staff there.
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