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Russian courts close three McDonald's branches in Moscow: agencies

MOSCOW (Reuters) - usnewsRussian courts on Wednesday ordered the temporary closure of three McDonald's restaurants in Moscow over breaches of sanitary rules, news agencies reported, amid a standoff with the West over Ukraine.

The restaurants on Moscow's Manezh square, under the walls of the Kremlin, at Pushkin Square and on Prospect Mira have been closed since last week following an order from state food safety watchdog Rospotrebnadzor.

Rospotrebnadzor has so far ordered the temporary closure of a total of five McDonald's restaurants in Russia. Sweeping checks, including unscheduled inspections, have been unveiled across Russian regions.

Russian businessmen have said the crackdown is linked to the crisis over Ukraine, which has soured U.S.-Russian relations and led to a round of sanctions and trade restrictions. The food safety watchdog has denied that its actions are politically motivated.

McDonald's said it would appeal the Wednesday's rulings.

"We do not agree with the courts' decisions and will appeal them according to established procedures," a spokeswoman for McDonald's in Russia said.

A lawyer representing McDonald's in the court, Maksim Titarenko, was also quoted as saying the courts' decisions to close the branches for 90 days were unjustified.

"The court orders the maximum penalty under this article of the Code of Administrative Offences although there are no grounds for it," Interfax news agency cited Titarenko as saying.

(Reporting by Maria Kiselyova, editing by Louise Heavens)

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