People sit outside a closed McDonald's restaurant in Moscow, August 20, 2014. REUTERS/Tatyana Makeyeva
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Russia ordered the temporary closure of four McDonald's restaurants in Moscow on Wednesday, a decision it said was over sanitary violations but which comes against a backdrop of worsening U.S.-Russian ties over Ukraine.The four restaurants ordered to suspend operations by the state food safety watchdog included the first ever McDonald's in Russia, which opened in the last days of the Soviet Union, and which the company says is its most frequented in the world.The watchdog, known in Russia as Rospotrebnadzor, said in a statement inspectors had found numerous sanitary violations.Russia's first McDonald's opened on Moscow's Pushkin Square in 1990, when it was viewed as a sign that, under reformist Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, Cold War tensions with the United States were starting to thaw.McDonald's operates 438 restaurants in Russia and sees the country as one of its top seven major markets outside the United States and Canada, according to its 2013 annual report.
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