On March 13, nearly several dozens of National Corps activists came to Russian Sberbank on 46 Volodymyrska St. to barricade the entrance with a concrete brick wall and demand that the bank stop business in Ukraine. The demonstration, which included painting graffiti on its walls, lasted nearly three hours.
The targeted vandalism is the latest in a series of escalating protests in which Ukrainian activists are trying to close down Russian-owned banks doing business in Ukraine. Russia has waged a bloody war against Ukraine for three years, starting with the military invasion and occupation of the Crimean peninsula and the war in the eastern Donbas, which has claimed 10,000 lives.
Others targets have included VTB Bank on Pushkinska Street.
The National Corps Party was formed last year by members of the Azov Civil Corps non-governmental organization with veterans of the Azov volunteer regiment.
Sergei Filimonov, head of the National Corps Kyiv branch, said last month that the activists will keep putting pressure on Russian banks until they see results.
“We want to disrupt the client base, so people see the paradox. We’re demanding the world’s sanctions against Russia, but we can’t hold them up here in Ukraine in time of war,” Filimonov said. “Not only are we not keeping up sanctions against Russia, the head of the National Bank of Ukraine is allowing them to develop.”
He said Ukrainian customers of Russian banks need to know that they are supporting the Kremlin aggressors.
“We’re fighting against Russia’s ability to make money off us and we will continue fighting,” Filimonov said.
Sberbank expressed concern.
“Sberbank is highly concerned about the situation in Ukraine linked to the actions of representatives of nationalist groups,” the bank said in a statement reported by Voice of America, a government-funded news outlet. “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 protect property.”
Sberbank said over the past week it had recorded over 26 acts of vandalism against Sberbank Ukraine’s branches and bank machines, according to Voice of America.
Last week, Ukraine’s 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.