According to Reuters on Wednesday, Rospotrebnadzor, Russia's main consumer watchdog, ordered the temporary closure of four McDonald's restaurants in Moscow, citing numerous violations of the sanitation laws.
One of the closed restaurants, opened in 1990 on Moscow's Pushkin Square, was the first-ever McDonald's to open in the Russian Federation, a sure sign then that Cold War relations were starting to thaw.
Asked if the closures were in retaliation for the U.S. and European Union countries imposing sanctions against Russia, an official with Rospotrebnadzor refused to comment. The official did say the closures were part of an ongoing investigation into McDonald's food standards in Russia.
The food standards investigation goes back to a lawsuit filed in July of this year by the consumer watchdog, claiming they had found violations of McDonald's food standards. Cheeseburgers and Filet-o-Fish were among some of the products singled out in the lawsuit. Needless to say, the lawsuit comes at a very inopportune time amid the heightened tensions over the Ukraine crisis.
Besides the restaurant in Pushkin Square, restaurants in Manezh Square and Prospect Mira in Moscow were also temporarily closed. In all, McDonald's has 400 restaurants scattered across the Russian Federation.
Earlier this month, in apparent retaliation to the U.S. led sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine crisis, Moscow in turn banned almost all meat, fish, dairy, fruit and vegetable imports from the United States, European Union, Norway, Canada and Australia for one year.