US fastfood giant McDonald's is to sue the state university in Belarus over plans to build a new university building near one of its Minsk restaurants.

Construction work has already begun, and is preventing customers entering the restaurant. The company is seeking damages from the university.

"We have a lease agreement with Minsk's municipal council. The lease expires in 2036. We are paying a land tax. That is why we believe such action not only violates our property rights but also violates the law," McDonald's spokeswoman Olga Troyan told Reuters.

McDonald's operates six restaurants in Minsk and is one of the largest foreign investors in the former Soviet state.

A representative for the university said that McDonald's had been offered alternative buildings, but McDonald's representatives denied this.