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Russian Sberbank subsidiary in Ukraine urges Poroshenko to protect its head office in Kiev

March 15, 0:58 UTC+3 KIEV

The bank employs more than 2,000 Ukrainian nationals and is one of the major Ukrainian commercial banks

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© EPA/SERGEY DOLZHENKO

KIEV, March 14. /TASS/. Sberbank of Russia subsidiary in Ukraine has appealed to Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko to assist in having radical activists’ blockade lifted from its head office in Kiev.

Sberbank’s staff "call on you to take urgent measures to restore the constitutional rights of the clients and employees, as well as appropriate activity of one of the leading commercial banks in Ukraine," an open letter to Poroshenko said.

The bank stressed that it employs more than 2,000 Ukrainian nationals and that Sberbank in Ukraine "is one of the major Ukrainian commercial banks... conducting its activity on the basis of a license from the National Bank of Ukraine, strictly within the framework of Ukrainian law". It said the bank "is one of the biggest taxpayers in Ukraine" with its payments to the state and local budgets amounting to an equivalent of $67 million in the past three years.

The letter stressed that Ukrainian law enforcement agencies refused to react to bank appeals over the violation of law by Ukrainian radical activists.

The blockade "affects the investment climate in the country and assessment of the situation in it, the country’s image on the global arena," the letter said.

Sberbank blockade

Ukrainian nationalists did not let staffers of the bank’s head office in Kiev into the office early on Tuesday. They pitched tents in front of the building, made bonfires. On Monday, they bricked up the entrance to the bank, writing Rusbank in big letters on its windows, and painting the national emblem of Ukraine on the central entrance door. Meanwhile, police officers don’t interfere, while the press service of the Kiev police told Tass that no breach of law had been fixed in that situation.

Members of Ukraine’s nationalist battalion Azov and Right Sector (an organization outlawed in Russia) also pledged on Monday to remain on duty round-the-clock at all Sberbank offices in Ukraine to disrupt their activity. Thus they seek to make the National Bank of Ukraine revoke the license, and make the parliament pass a law banning the activity of Russian banks in Ukraine.

The National Bank of Ukraine announced on March 7 that it is ready to initiate sanctions against Sberbank’s subsidiary in Ukraine, if information about the bank providing services in Russia to customers with passports of Donetsk and Lugansk people's republics is confirmed.

Prime Minister Vladimir Groisman, for his part, pledged "an adequate response" if this information was confirmed. Ukraine’s Sberbank told TASS that the bank rules out the possibility of providing services to individuals and legal entities on the basis of documents issued on territories not under control of the Ukrainian authorities.

Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, one of initiators of the government appeal to the National Bank to revoke Sberbank’s license, said that on Wednesday, March 15, the Ukrainian Council for National Security and Defense will consider a ban on the activity of Sberbank in Ukraine.

Ukrainian unit PJSC Sberbank was founded in 2001, with Sberbank as the sole owner. According to the National Bank of Ukraine, as of July 1, 2016, Sberbank held the 7th place (47.845 bln hryvnia - $805.15 mln) among the country’s 108 banks in terms of total assets.

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