(Removes superfluous letters from headline.)
* Russia closes three McDonald's restaurants in Moscow
* Checks come amid Moscow standoff with West over Ukraine
By Vladimir Soldatkin
MOSCOW, Aug 22 Russian authorities extended
their scrutiny of McDonald's to several regions on
Friday, carrying out inspections at a number of restaurants run
by the U.S. fast-food chain, amid a standoff with the West over
The inspections are viewed by many businessmen as
retaliation for Western sanctions against Russia because of its
support for separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine, and they fear
the retribution could spread to other symbols of Western
A spokeswoman for the country's food safety agency,
Rospotrebnadzor, said the inspections were not related to the
"The checks are not politically motivated," she said.
The agency also said it had no plans to close down the
company's business in the Republic of Tatarstan, two days after
the agency shut three McDonald's branches in Moscow. Checks in
Tatarstan were announced on Thursday.
An agency spokeswoman in Tatarstan's largest city, Kazan,
said checks were under way at McDonald's, which has 17
restaurants in the region - one of the highest concentrations in
Russia outside Moscow and St Petersburg.
"We are making checks there. There are some irregularities
and we are likely to punish them, but we will not close down
their restaurants," she said.
The regulators had earlier extended the checks outside of
Moscow, including in Central Russia and the Urals.
Local press also reported that it plans to begin inspections
in the North-West Leningrad region on Aug. 25. A regional
official declined to comment.
McDonald's operates 440 restaurants in Russia and considers
the country one of its top seven markets outside the United
States and Canada, according to its 2013 annual report. Almost 1
million people a day use its restaurants in Russia.
In Tatarstan, some 1,500 people work for the fast-food
A McDonald's Russia spokeswoman said earlier this week the
company was aware of the situation and "was open" to any checks.
(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin, Olga Sichkar and Maria
Kiselyova; Editing by Alexander Winning and John Stonestreet,