Russia’s fight with McDonald’s just went from a mild skirmish to a full-on war. First the country shut down one (famous) branch of the fast-food chain located in Moscow, then it took down twelve more, and now, reports Bloomberg, 200 of the country’s 450 branches are under investigation:
McDonald’s arrived in Soviet-era Russia in 1990 and was seen as a symbol of the nation’s rising prospects, helping open the communist nation to foreign enterprise. While regulators have cited violations of sanitary rules by McDonald’s, the timing and scope of the shutdowns are seen as a response to Western sanctions in Russia.
According to the Financial Times, the country is also investigating the finances of Ronald McDonald House Charities for the first time since the charity started working in Mother Russia. The Russian government’s choice of target is logical: McDonald’s has long been a symbol of American imperialism, American capitalism, and the degradation of American culture, the bête noire of the country’s critics worldwide. As long as that remains true, any country looking to distance itself from the West symbolically, as Putin wishes Russia to, will naturally have McDonald’s on its radar.