Russia Shutters 4 McDonald’s Locations for ‘Sanitary Violations’

Guards stand in front of a closed McDonald's near the Kremlin on Manezhnaya Square.

Guards stand in front of a closed McDonald’s near the Kremlin on Manezhnaya Square.

The Russian government closed four McDonald’s restaurants in Moscow on Wednesday for alleged sanitary violations, though many believe the move was designed to be a dig at the United States.

Many western European nations, including the U.S., have periodically ramped up sanctions against Moscow for months now, following Russia’s annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea in March. Russia has responded with sanctions of its own; fighting between Russia-backed separatists in Ukraine and the Ukrainian military has escalated as the conflict has bloomed into an international issue.

One of the four now-shuttered McDonald’s restaurants is the famous eatery that opened for business on Pushkin Square before the Soviet Union dissolved in late 1991.

Sanitary inspections will reportedly continue at other McDonald’s locations in Russia, where the restaurant chain operates 430 eateries across the nation. The Russian agency reportedly said that the restaurants were improperly disposing of food and waste, and that McDonald’s salads were found to contain E. coli bacteria, which can cause stomach cramps and diarrhea.

The Russian agency responsible for consumer rights and human well-being reportedly has a history of banning food products from nations that have poor relations with Russia. Among other items, Moscow recently blocked imports of fruit, vegetables, fish and some brands of vodka from Ukraine, and it has embargoed most foods from the U.S., along with fruits and vegetables from nations in the European Union.

Even if no additional McDonald’s restaurants are closed, shutting down the Pushkin Square location is symbolic of the Russian government attempting to curtail American influence shutting down the Pushkin Square location is symbolic of the Russian government attempting to curtail American influence in its capital city. That McDonald’s was immensely popular when it first opened, and that popularity grew into an image of western cultural dominance.

McDonald’s management has said it is looking into what must be done for the restaurants to reopen.

 
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