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October 14, 2014

Russia Searches for Violations by Ronald McDonald House

Russian prosecutors have launched an investigation of Ronald McDonald House Charities' operations in the country at the behest of a lawmaker who accused the children's nonprofit of opaque finances and suggested it should register as a foreign agent, The Washington Post reports. The inquiry comes weeks after the government closed several McDonald's restaurants, citing health-code violations.

Andrei Krutov, a deputy in the Russian legislature who requested the investigation, noted that Ronald McDonald House denoted many of its 2013 expenditures as "other" in a category list on 2013 tax forms. He said he is concerned the charity, which provides services for ill children and their families, is dodging taxes or using donated funds to advertise for its corporate parent.

Svetlana Polyakova, a spokeswoman for McDonald's Russia who also heads Ronald McDonald House in the country, noted that neither the charity nor the fast-food chain had any problems with authorities before this year. Russia-U.S. relations are at a post-Cold War low ebb over the conflict in Ukraine. “An attack on McDonald’s is a very populist act right now," said Pavel Chikov, a human rights lawyer.