Report: Putin robbed Crimean banks, won't give money back to ordinary people

This is an incredible report from Reuters that reveals the financial chaos initiated by Russia in Crimea following Putin's land-grab.

Apparently, Ukraine banks are having to write off billions in loans because ordinary Crimeans are unable to access their checking and savings accounts, so they can't repay their debts.

The reason?  Those accounts were drained by Russia following the takeover.

"They are not returning the money," complained Margarita Pobudilova, a 77-year-old retired factory worker who for months has been unable to access more than $3,000 of her life savings.

Ten months after Russia invaded this Black Sea peninsula and seized it from Ukraine, the financial fallout is still being felt. Thousands of ordinary citizens have little or no access to their funds. Losses for Ukrainian banks continue to mount as billions of dollars worth of loans they issued in Crimea go unpaid. Lawyers for the banks are preparing legal actions against Russia, which confiscated many of the banks' buildings, equipment and cash.

Meanwhile, Crimea has been thrust into a kind of technological time warp: Most ATMs no longer accept non-Russian bank cards; foreign credit cards can't be used to buy things. Most non-local mobile phones can't receive a signal. And even if they could, calling other Crimeans is complicated: Most of the peninsula's residents recently had to get new mobile phone numbers because Ukrainian services were cut off.

The banking and phone chaos are another front in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia.

In Crimea, which has been part of Ukraine for 60 years, Russia has basically blown up the existing banking system, forcing Ukrainian banks to close, banning the Ukrainian currency and replacing the region's retail banking network almost overnight. The resulting economic turmoil has shuttered some businesses and complicated life for thousands, forcing people to deal with a Kafkaesque bureaucracy to try to get their money returned.

For all the havoc Russian President Vladimir Putin's conquest has caused, many living here don't blame him for their hardship. In interviews, residents accused Ukrainian banks and the government in Kiev of stealing their money. That distrust indicates – at least for now – a victory for Russia in the propaganda war and suggests that Kiev's chances of regaining the peninsula soon are slim.

People believe what they want to believe, so it's not surprising that Putin can get away with bank robbery and Crimeans will thank him for it.  But it's further proof that Putin runs a criminal gang more akin to a Cosa Nostra family than a modern government.

This is an incredible report from Reuters that reveals the financial chaos initiated by Russia in Crimea following Putin's land-grab.

Apparently, Ukraine banks are having to write off billions in loans because ordinary Crimeans are unable to access their checking and savings accounts, so they can't repay their debts.

The reason?  Those accounts were drained by Russia following the takeover.

"They are not returning the money," complained Margarita Pobudilova, a 77-year-old retired factory worker who for months has been unable to access more than $3,000 of her life savings.

Ten months after Russia invaded this Black Sea peninsula and seized it from Ukraine, the financial fallout is still being felt. Thousands of ordinary citizens have little or no access to their funds. Losses for Ukrainian banks continue to mount as billions of dollars worth of loans they issued in Crimea go unpaid. Lawyers for the banks are preparing legal actions against Russia, which confiscated many of the banks' buildings, equipment and cash.

Meanwhile, Crimea has been thrust into a kind of technological time warp: Most ATMs no longer accept non-Russian bank cards; foreign credit cards can't be used to buy things. Most non-local mobile phones can't receive a signal. And even if they could, calling other Crimeans is complicated: Most of the peninsula's residents recently had to get new mobile phone numbers because Ukrainian services were cut off.

The banking and phone chaos are another front in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia.

In Crimea, which has been part of Ukraine for 60 years, Russia has basically blown up the existing banking system, forcing Ukrainian banks to close, banning the Ukrainian currency and replacing the region's retail banking network almost overnight. The resulting economic turmoil has shuttered some businesses and complicated life for thousands, forcing people to deal with a Kafkaesque bureaucracy to try to get their money returned.

For all the havoc Russian President Vladimir Putin's conquest has caused, many living here don't blame him for their hardship. In interviews, residents accused Ukrainian banks and the government in Kiev of stealing their money. That distrust indicates – at least for now – a victory for Russia in the propaganda war and suggests that Kiev's chances of regaining the peninsula soon are slim.

People believe what they want to believe, so it's not surprising that Putin can get away with bank robbery and Crimeans will thank him for it.  But it's further proof that Putin runs a criminal gang more akin to a Cosa Nostra family than a modern government.