McDonald's probes copycat burger joint in separatist east Ukraine
By Anton Zverev and Maria Kiselyova
MOSCOW (Reuters) - The McDonald's MCD.N fast food chain said its lawyers were investigating after entrepreneurs in separatist-controlled eastern Ukraine started selling McDonald's-style hamburgers out of a restaurant that the company shut down two years ago.
The company said it pulled out of the Ukrainian city of Luhansk in May 2014 for security reasons after pro-Russian insurgents mounted an armed uprising there against Kiev's rule, and unilaterally declared the region's independence.
But since then, the company said, the restaurant premises in Luhansk was unlawfully taken over. Photographs sent to Reuters by a witness on Friday showed the restaurant was now open and selling fries and burgers that look similar to those served in McDonald's restaurants worldwide.
All McDonald's branding and logos had, however, been removed from the restaurant.
On the outside of the building, the McDonald's sign had been doctored to leave only the letters "Mc", and the blue-red-and-light blue flag of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic was attached to the roof.
"Our lawyers are working on this issue," said a spokeswoman for McDonald's in Ukraine.
The region around Luhansk and the neighboring city of Donetsk are under Kiev's rule in the eyes of international law but are de facto under the control of separatist administrations which are not internationally recognized.
The United States and European Union imposed sanctions on many of the separatist leaders, and their backers in Russia, alleging they colluded to unlawfully seize the territory. The separatists and Moscow said they had to act to protect their regions from persecution by Kiev. Continued...