Russia has expanded inspections at McDonald’s restaurants around the country as the stand-off between the Kremlin and the West worsens, Bloomberg reports.
The latest round of inspections will take in more than 200 of the fast-food chain’s outlets, nearly half of all McDonald’s in Russia, and will probe hygiene and finance.
Russian courts have already shuttered nine McDonald’s restaurants across the country since Moscow annexed the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine in March, sparking widespread international condemnation and a wave of economic sanctions from Western powers.
Russia’s consumer safety watchdog regulators cited sanitary violations at the restaurants that have already been closed down, which include the country’s first outlet at Pushkin Square in Moscow. The iconic branch first opened in 1990, while Russia was still part of the Soviet Union.
There are around 450 McDonald’s restaurants in Russia. More than 100 are located in the Moscow region while more than 60 are in the St Petersburg region.
Many analysts believe that political reasons are behind the decision to target McDonald’s, as the United States and the European Union have slapped a range of sanctions on Russia.
Western powers have restricted Russian access to global financial markets, while a number of senior officials with close ties to the Kremlin have had their assets frozen and been subjected to travel bans