PrivatBank Closes Regional Banks in East Ukraine; Owner Kolomoisky Calls Putin a 'Short-Statured Schizophrenic'

PrivatBank Closes Regional Banks in East Ukraine; Owner Kolomoisky Calls Putin a 'Short-Statured Schizophrenic'

A private bank in Mariupol, Ukraine was the first non-government building attacked by the pro-Russian forces. The violence forced PrivatBank to close regional branches in Donetsk and Luhansk Oblast. Billionaire Dnipropetrovsk Oblast Governor Ihor Kolomoisky owns the banks.

PrivatBank stated on May 5 that it was moving to a “special operation” in Donetsk and Lugansk oblasts because, under the threatening circumstances, the bank “cannot and does not have the right to force people to go to work…when people break into bank branches with arms in cities and steal cars and money.”

The bank reassured clients that their accounts are safe and can be accessed via the Internet Bank Privat24 and mobile applications, and that its payment cards for cashless transactions are all in order.

As of May 5, no other banks have been targeted. PrivatBank said banks in other regions in Ukraine were not targeted and reported no problems. The company asked the Donetsk and Luhansk governments to provide more protection.

PrivatBank has also formally appealed to the Donetsk and Luhansk local authorities and citizen groups to protect the bank and ensure their smooth operations in light of the numerous customers that the bank serves, including pensioners.  “In the last 10 days alone,” PrivatBank reports, “as a result of arson, assault and wanton destruction of property in the cities of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, 38 ATMs and 24 branches of PrivatBank have suffered and 11 vehicles were stolen.”

Kolomoisky is one of Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s biggest supporters and used his private money to help fund the cash strapped government and depleted army. He offered a $10,000 bounty “to anyone who could bring him a Russian mercenary.” He is also one of the few who will speak out against Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Kolomoisky called Putin a “short-statured schizophrenic” and Putin called Kolomoisky a “rogue” and a “cheater,” and suggested that Crimean citizens pull their money out of his bank there.

Kolomoisky is worth $1.8 billion.