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Russia

Russia extends probe into McDonald's restaurants

A Russian consumer safety watchdog has said it's widening its current probe into McDonald's restaurants across the country. It spoke about concerns that the US company might have violated sanitary requirements.

Russian food safety watchdog Rospotrebnadzor said Thursday it was conducting unscheduled checks at McDonald's restaurants in the Sverdlovsk region in the Urals as well as in a number of other areas across the country.

Citing local watchdog official Natalya Lukyantseva, Itar-Tass news agency reported that the inspections were meant to verify whether reports about sanitary law breaches were justified.

The checks on Thursday came a day after Rospotrebnadzor ordered the temporary closure of four McDonald's restaurants in Moscow over what the watchdog said were "fears of sanitary violations."

Taking revenge?

The restaurants shuttered included the US company's first-ever branch in Russia, which was opened in the waning days of the Soviet Union and which the firm said was its most-frequented in the world.

Sanctions starting to bite in Europe

McDonald's head office in Illinois said the company was working to get the restaurants opened again as soon as possible.

"We are closely studying the subject of the documents to define what should be done to reopen the restaurants," it said in a statement Wednesday.

McDonald's has well over 400 restaurants across Russia and employs more than 37,000 people there. The Russian watchdog's decision to probe the US firm comes against a backdrop of a sanctions spiral triggered by the protracted standoff between the West and Moscow over the Ukraine conflict.

hg/tj (Reuters, AFP)

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