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Russia conducts checks at McDonald's restaurants in Urals region
August 21, 2014 , 12 : 46 pm GST
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A man walks past a closed McDonald's restaurant, one of four temporarily closed by the state food safety watchdog, in Moscow August 21, 2014. Photo - Reuters
Russia's food safety watchdog is conducting unscheduled checks at McDonald's restaurants in the Ural mountains region of Sverdlovsk, it said on Thursday, a day after four branches in Moscow were shuttered by the same agency.
The food safety agency cited breaches of sanitary rules by restaurants in the fast food chain, but the action came after Moscow and the West imposed tit-for-tat sanctions over the conflict in Ukraine. The agency denied that its actions are politically motivated.
"Checks were started due to complaints" from customers, Natalya Lukyantseva, an official in the Sverdlovsk region office of the regulatory agency, known in Russian as Rospotrebnadzor, told Reuters.
She declined to disclose the number of McDonald's restaurants which are being checked in the Sverdlovsk region.
On Wednesday, the agency ordered the suspension of operations at four McDonald's restaurants in Moscow over what it said were "numerous" sanitary law breaches.
The shuttered restaurants include one on Moscow's Pushkin Square, which McDonald's says is the busiest in its global network of restaurants. It was the first to open in Russia, in 1990, and was seen as a symbol the Cold War was ending.
McDonald's operates 438 restaurants in Russia and considers the country one of its top seven major markets outside the United States and Canada, according to its 2013 annual report.
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