Following the Russian annexation of Crimea earlier this year, the three McDonald's outlets in the erstwhile Ukrainian peninsula were shuttered. At least one of the stores was taken over by RusBurger, the nationalist Russian hamburger chain, which boasts Czar cheeseburgers instead of Big Macs and pear lemonade instead of Coca-Cola.
In the ensuing months, as tensions have flared between the United States and Russia over the (still) ongoing conflict in Ukraine, the Golden Arches have become a casualty in the battle. The oldest McDonald's in Russia, which for decades sat on Pushkin Square in Moscow, was among the four stores that were forced closed for "numerous violations of the sanitary code” back in August. According to The Times, it had once been the busiest McDonald's in the world.
On Monday, word spread that Russia had expanded its crackdown on McDonald's, closing nine more outlets and opening investigations against 200 others (or nearly half the McDonald's franchises in Russia). According to Bloomberg, McDonald's said it plans to fight the closures.
While Russia claims its investigations of McDonald's are either for hygienic or financial reasons, the campaign against (perhaps) the most symbolically American brand has coincided with an international escalation of sanctions against Russia.