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McDonald’s may be the most visible face of U.S. capitalism in Russia, with 438 restaurants spanning the country, from Moscow to eastern Siberia. Still, it looked set to ride out Russia’s new ban on Western agricultural imports, since all the ingredients it serves Russian customers are locally sourced.
Today, though, Russia’s national consumer-safety regulator ordered the closure of at least four McDonald’s outlets, including its flagship Pushkin Square location, for alleged violations of sanitary rules. The watchdog agency didn’t mention President Vladimir Putin’s battle of sanctions with the U.S. and European Union in ordering the closures, but Russian authorities have wielded consumer-protection enforcement in other political controversies, as when they shut down a candy factory owned by Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko. McDonald’s (MCD) says it is studying the regulator’s claims.