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National Corpus (Azov) unblocks Russian banks

March 27, 2017

It has to be said that currently National Corpus doesn’t quite have the identity traction of either the Azov Battalion nor Azov Civil Corps from which it is born.

What identity/recognition it has within Ukrainian society is primarily associated with former Azov Battalion commander and Verkhovna Rada MP Andrei Biletsky.

So be it.  Political parties in Ukraine are generally associated with their leader(s) and being little more than a vehicle for their leader(s) – rather than for having an identifiable ideology of any longevity or consistency.  (National Corpus is something of an exception for it clearly has a very nationalist ideology, yet is very much the same in being identified for its leader.)

As part of its recent political activities National Corpus decided to blockade Russian banks in Ukraine, declaring them to have no place in the Ukrainian banking system.

It has to be said that Russian banks have no future in Ukraine – regardless of the success of any National Corpus initiative (or otherwise).  New accounts opened with them will not be an indicator any Russian parents bank will now have as a KPI – albeit the Russian banks in Ukraine will remain well capitalised by their Russian parent to avoid falling foul of the NBU capitalisation requirements but retain a market presence.

The NBU will (have to) find other reasons to remove them from the Ukrainian banking landscape – but a future in the Ukrainian banking market for them, there is not.

Regardless of the eventual (forced) Russian egress from the market,  National Corpus decided to blockade/picket Sberbank in Kyiv, Vinnytsia, Sumy and Zaporzhye with effect from 24th March.  (Before a keen-eyed reader asks about the Sberbank branches in all the other Ukrainian towns and cities, National Corpus claims it will roll out the blockade in the future.)

A reader is left to assume that Sberbank is simply the first Russian bank to be targeted and that others will follow once Sberbank is dealt with.  There is a limitation as to what National Corpus can accomplish at any particular time with a small, finite membership after all.

On 27th March, 3 days into the Sberbank blockade, National Corpus announced the suspension of said blockade – this to allow Ukrainian citizens to withdraw their savings prior to a resumption on an as yet unspecified date.

Something of an unnecessary false start!

There appears to have been some surprise that Ukrainian citizens still had their deposits with a Russian bank after some 3 years of war – “We are at war with Russia, and not with the Ukrainian citizens, but we are surprised by the behavior of those who in the third year of the war with Russia hold their savings in banks of the occupier. Therefore, we are for a short period unblocking branches of Russian banks……………however, we turn to them to show national solidarity with our common front against the aggressor.”

With the prospect of early parliamentary elections still a very real possibility, and with National Corpus, (even on an undoubted joint platform with other hardened nationalist parties), unlikely to do particularly well, there are perhaps lessons to be learned from this Sberbank action and drawing the ire of the voting constituency somewhat unnecessarily – particularly as it is clear the NBU sights will become fixed upon Russian banks now the work shuttering many Ukrainian “banks” has almost been completed.

It has to be made perfectly clear (again) that the blog has absolutely no liking for far right nor far left politics.  Furthermore it draws a very distinct and clear line between patriotism and nationalism.  They are neither interchangeable words nor ideology.

However, Azov was at least initially impressive when it appeared from nowhere, building from its (in)famous reputation gained on the front lines, it  began what can only be described as an outreach programme not dissimilar to that of the Muslim Brotherhood (albeit they may cringe at any such comparison).

For an organisation with such structural “foresight”, it is therefore perhaps surprising that it has seemingly bungled the preparation for the “bank blockades”.   A reader might have expected a far greater and much longer PR campaign preparatory to the “bank blockades”, thus forewarning the Ukrainian citizenry of the intended actions and the likelihood of some disruption at the banks due to their action – combined with a patriotic appeal to relocate their banking deposits prior to the political activism commencing.

Such political activism with the goal of seriously disrupting the targeted banks was surely deserving of informing a voting and banking constituency to which National Corpus must turn with far more preparatory warning time for the Ukrainian citizenry.

Quite how long it will be before the “banking blockade” is reinstated remains unclear – as does the timing of any expansion of the blockade across the nation – but to maximise the effect on the targeted banks and minimise the effects on potential voters, perhaps a serious information effort in local and national media is politically wise while the blockade is suspended.

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