Russian regulators are targeting McDonald’s restaurants in a crackdown that authorities say is a matter of food safety.
But the closure of several Russian McDonald’s restaurants and unscheduled checks of several others comes on the heels of tit-for-tat sanctions between Russia and Western countries over the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Earlier this month, Russian authorities banned a wide array of food imports from the United States, the European Union and several other countries after Western powers enacted economic sanctions against Moscow.
According to Reuters, the Russian state food safety agency temporarily shuttered four restaurants on Wednesday, including the world’s busiest McDonald’s store in Moscow’s Pushkin Square, citing breaches of sanitary rules. On Thursday, the agency said it was conducting checks on other outlets across the country.
The agency has denied that its actions are politically motivated, according to Reuters.
“We are aware of what is going on. We have always been and are now open to any checks,” a spokesperson for McDonald’s in Russia told Reuters. The chain operates 438 restaurants in the country.