Culture, Travel & Sport

Russian-occupied Crimea, home to Starducks, DonMak, and CFC

Walk around Sevastopol, Simferopol or any other town or city in Russian-occupied Crimea and you will likely notice the complete absence of any global brands. What you will see, however, are local ‘variations’ filling the breach.

Less than a decade ago residents of Crimea and the Donbas region of Ukraine could feast on the same fast-food as anyone else, including McDonalds and KFC.

This completely changed following Russia’s invasion and annexation of the Crimean peninsula and parts of eastern Ukraine in 2014.

Russia’s claims over the region remain unrecognised by the international community, and its illegal occupation has forced the European Union, the United States, the United Kingdom and other nations to introduce strict sanctions against any business that operates in Crimea and Donbas.

As a result, virtually all brands with any global recognition have had to cease operations on the peninsula, leaving space in the market for some rather interesting local variations.


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A post shared by ДонМак (

Despite the eerie resemblance in name, branding, menu, and – reportedly – taste, DonMak operates independently in Donbas and is not affiliated with McDonalds in any way.

However, DonMak is not just any other McDonalds rip off. According to local sources, some of the branches of the chain are based in premises once occupied by the real McDonalds restaurants, making use of equipment left behind.


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A post shared by CFC_simf (@cfc_simf)

Another of global food chains that cannot be spotted anywhere on the Crimean peninsula is Kentucky Fried Chicken. Fortunately, Crimean Fried Chicken is available instead.

CFC customers can enjoy a red and white bucket of 25 or 16 wings amongst other menu items that might make them believe they are at KFC.

Predictably, grabbing a hot cup of coffee at Starbucks in Crimea is not an option either.

Instead, there are now eight locations of the much more adorably named Starducks in Sevastopol, Crimea’s largest city.

It is not just global fast-food chains that are notably absent from Crimea: banking services such as Visa, Mastercard and PayPal, as well as e-commerce providers such as Alibaba, Amazon and eBay have also halted all activities in the region.

Ukraine-based companies have also stopped operating in Crimea, for similar reasons. Ukrainian banks such as Privatbank no longer have Crimean branches, while Kyiv-based communication companies Kyivstar, MTS Ukraine and Life:) are also now absent.

Perhaps more surprising is that few major Russian companies have entered Crimea in order to fill the gap in the market, at least on paper.

Aiming to avoid Western sanctions, medium and large Russian companies are allegedly  making slight alterations to their branding when doing business in Crimea.

For example, Russia’s largest pizza chain Dodo Pizza, which has 570 locations around Russia and operates in 14 other countries, does not do business in Crimea. Lolo Pizza, however, does. Any similarities – they have nearly identical menus and websites – are no doubt coincidental.


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A post shared by Додо Пицца (@dodopizza)

Then there’s Crimea Post, whose branding is remarkably similar to Russia Post.


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A post shared by Почта Крыма (@crimea_post)

Despite having virtually the same logo and branding, white writing in a blue square, the Crimea Post is a separate entity to Russia Post, which was introduced to the region when Ukraine’s Ukrposhta stopped being able to service it.

While the entity aims to eventually integrate into the wider Russian post system, this has not yet happened, and it remains close to impossible to post items internationally to and from Crimea.

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