Ukraine central bank asks police to shield sanctioned Russian-controlled banks from riots

By Andrei Skvarsky.

The Ukrainian central bank has urged the police to make nationalist rioters stop forcibly disrupting the business of Ukrainian outlets of Russian state-controlled banks that have had sanctions imposed on them by Kiev for alleged support for Ukraine’s Moscow-backed separatist industrial east, and to prevent them from vandalising the lenders’ offices.

More than 1.7m people in 42.5m Ukraine keep a total of more than 21bn hryvni ($774m) in the Ukrainian businesses of Russia’s largest and second-largest banks, Sberbank and VTB and Russian development institution Vnesheconombank, Ukrainian news website cited National Bank deputy governor Kateryna Rozhkova as telling a briefing in Kiev.

The sanctioned banks must be guaranteed “civilised exit from the Ukrainian market”, Rozhkova said. “It is important to understand that the vandalisation of banking institutions discredits the entire banking system of the country in the eyes of clients … because it prevents people from making use of their savings.”

Rioters vandalised and barricaded entrances to offices of Russian bank subsidiaries in Kiev, Ternopil, Dnipro and Kramatorsk, said.

This followed a March 7 announcement by Sberbank that it had begun to provide services for holders of passports issued by the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic.

On March 23, National Bank imposed one-year sanctions on five banks controlled by the Russian state after the penalties had been approved by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on March 16.

Besides Sberbank and VTB, the sanctioned banks are VS Bank, a Ukrainian lender owned by Sberbank, BM-Bank, which was formerly known as Bank of Moscow and is part of the VTB group, and Prominvestbank, a Ukrainian institution owned by Vnesheconombank.

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