MOSCOW, Oct. 10 (UPI) -- Ronald McDonald House Charities in Russia is under investigation by prosecutors who suspect it may be avoiding taxes or laundering money.
The inquiry into the charity, an arm of the U.S.-based fast food company McDonald's Corp., was prompted by State Duma legislator Andrei Krutov, and comes after a summer of 12 restaurant closures in Russia for alleged sanitary reasons after over 170 unscheduled inspections. Nine more across Russia were temporarily closed Thursday.
The closures and scrutiny of McDonald's locations in Russia coincided with Russian annexation of Crimea and the military crisis in Ukraine, as well as the economic sanctions that followed. McDonald's has been a symbolic American presencehtml" target="_blank"} on Russian soil since 1990, when the country was part of the Soviet Union.
Regarding the charity, Krutov said in an interview with The Washington Post, "They use donations from ordinary Russians, so that is why we want to know how this money is spent. I am talking only about financial aspects of their activities, and technical questions about their work. We do not want you to think that we have political reasons for doing this."
Ronald McDonald House Charities in Russia operates a sports facility for physically and mentally disabled children in Moscow, and a residential facility near a children's hospital in Kazan, 450 miles east of Moscow.