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Russian courts close 3 McDonald's branches for 90 days

August 27, 2014, 17:53 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Among the restaurants affected by the closure is the famous location on Pushkin Square, the first McDonald's opened in Russia in 1990, just before the fall of the Soviet Union
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© EPA/MAXIM SHIPENKOV

MOSCOW, August 27. /ITAR-TASS/. Moscow courts on Wednesday ordered a 90-day closure of three McDonald's restaurants in the city centre over breaches of sanitary rules.

Among the restaurants affected by the closure is the famous location on Pushkin Square, the first McDonald's opened in Russia in 1990, just before the fall of the Soviet Union.

Russia's food safety watchdog Rospotrebnadzor previously ordered suspension of five separate branches of the fast-food giant, three of which were in Moscow, and two others in the southern Stavropol region and in Yekaterinburg, Russia’s fourth-largest city in the Urals.

Rospotrebnadzor said sanitary violations had been revealed during inspections, launching sweeping checks at other locations across the country.

Two more outlets in the Volga cities of Kazan and Astrakhan were closed for technical reasons. Checks were not conducted there yet.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Olga Golodets said there was no “total plan” to inspect all the chain's outlets in Russia. She claimed activities were being carried out “in accordance with the general plan, and based on some cases of violations of sanitary-epidemiological legislation”.

Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said Russian authorities were not planning to close down McDonald's chain nationwide.

“No-one is talking about it at all [a ban on McDonald's in Russia],” Dvorkovich said after inspectors took to the road. But some businessmen in Russia said checks had been driven by souring relations between Russia and the West over events in Ukraine.

“Obviously it's driven by political issues surrounding Ukraine,” said Alexis Rodzianko, president and CEO of the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia.

Outlets closed as Russia introduced a year-long embargo on meat, fish, dairy, fruit and vegetables from the United States, the European Union, Canada, Australia and Norway in retaliation for economic sanctions imposed by those nations on Russia.

McDonald's operates 435 restaurants in 85 Russian cities and sees the country as one of its top seven major markets outside the United States and Canada, according to its 2013 annual report. The company employs nearly 37,000 people in Russia who serve more than one million customers a day.

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