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Lawmaker Asks for Investigation of McDonald's Charity Organization

A man walks past a closed McDonald's restaurant, one of four temporarily closed by the state food safety watchdog, in Moscow.

A Russian lawmaker has asked the country's top prosecutor to investigate the financial activities of Ronald McDonald House Charities, Izvestia reported Monday.

The McDonald's restaurant chain has come under increasing pressure from Russia's consumer rights watchdog, with more than 10 of its outlets being ordered shut in recent weeks over alleged sanitary violations. The crackdown on McDonald's is seen by many as forming part of Russia's response to U.S. sanctions on Moscow over its role in Ukraine. The watchdog has repeatedly denied that the inspections are politically motivated.

Andrei Krutov, a State Duma deputy for the A Just Russia party, has now asked Prosecutor General Yury Chaika to check Ronald McDonald House Charities, an independent non-profit organization whose largest corporate partner is the McDonald's restaurant chain, because Krutov says it is not clear how the children's charity spends the donations it receives, Izvestia reported.

Krutov also questioned the reliability of the organization's financial reports submitted to the Federal Tax Service and said that despite being foreign-owned, the charity is not registered with the Justice Ministry as a foreign agent — a mandatory procedure for Russia-based non-governmental organizations that receive money from abroad and engage in domestic politics.

The charity's press service told Izvestia that its activities are in full accordance with Russian law, and that because it has no involvement in politics, there is no reason for it to register as a foreign agent.

In better news for the chain, two of the restaurants that were closed last week by the country's consumer rights watchdog reopened on Monday, McDonald's press service said, Interfax reported. Its outlet Stavropol is now open again, as is one of its two locations in Sochi. Its second restaurant in Sochi is due to reopen on Thursday.

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