Russia keeps up pressure on McDonald's with new inspections

Fri Aug 22, 2014 12:06pm EDT
 
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By Vladimir Soldatkin

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian authorities extended their scrutiny of McDonald's (MCD.N: Quote) to several regions on Friday, carrying out inspections at a number of restaurants run by the U.S. fast-food chain, amid a standoff with the West over Ukraine.

The inspections are viewed by many businessmen as retaliation for Western sanctions against Russia because of its support for separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine, and they fear the retribution could spread to other symbols of Western capitalism.

A spokeswoman for the country's food safety agency, Rospotrebnadzor, said the inspections were not related to the standoff.

"The checks are not politically motivated," she said.

The agency also said it had no plans to close down the company's business in the Republic of Tatarstan, two days after the agency shut three McDonald's branches in Moscow. Checks in Tatarstan were announced on Thursday.

An agency spokeswoman in Tatarstan's largest city, Kazan, said checks were under way at McDonald's, which has 17 restaurants in the region - one of the highest concentrations in Russia outside Moscow and St Petersburg.

"We are making checks there. There are some irregularities and we are likely to punish them, but we will not close down their restaurants," she said.

The regulators had earlier extended the checks outside of Moscow, including in Central Russia and the Urals.   Continued...

 
The walls and towers of the Kremlin are reflected in a window of a closed McDonald's restaurant, one of four temporarily closed by the state food safety watchdog, in Moscow, August 21, 2014. REUTERS/Maxim Zmeyev