KIEV, March 13 Russian lender Sberbank
said on Monday it was deeply concerned by protests against its
Ukrainian subsidiary, which included a nationalist group walling
up the entrance to one of its branches in Kiev with masonry and
Periodic protests have been held against Kremlin-owned banks
operating in Ukraine since bilateral ties broke down in 2014
after Russia annexed Crimea and gave its support to the
pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Sberbank's announcement last Tuesday that it would heed a
call from President Vladimir Putin to recognise passports issued
by separatists in eastern Ukraine has fuelled greater
On Monday, a few dozen members of a new activist group
called National Corp blocked off the entrance to Sberbank's main
branch in central Kiev. The branch temporarily suspended
operations and appealed to the police.
"Sberbank is highly concerned about the situation in Ukraine
linked to the actions of representatives of nationalist groups,"
the bank said in a statement.
"Our subsidiary has already appealed to law enforcement
bodies and we hope that all necessary steps will be swiftly
taken to ensure the safety of our workers and clients and
It said over the past week it had recorded over 26 acts of
vandalism against Sberbank Ukraine's branches and bank machines.
Last week, the central bank said it could recommend the
introduction of sanctions on Sberbank's subsidiary for its
recognition of separatists' identity documents.
Five Russian state-owned banks are present in Ukraine,
including three in the top 20, and they hold a combined market
share of 8.6 percent.
The central bank has been seeking to cut that following the
souring of relations between the one-time allies.
It is not yet clear how the other Kremlin-owned banks
operating in Ukraine are handling Putin's order to recognise
(Reporting by Margaryta Cornokondratenko in Kiev and Alexander
Winning in Moscow; Writing by Alessandra Prentice)