National Bank’s attempt to improve plight of Crimeans makes situation worse
Following a storm of criticism and law suits, Ukraine’s National Bank attempted to rectify the situation whereby Crimeans were discriminated against. Human rights activists warn that the measures taken have led to new restrictions on Crimeans’ rights and imposed additional requirements.
The National Bank’s Decision No. 699 banned any loan or deposit operations in Russian roubles and obliges Ukrainian banks to close the accounts of legal entities in the Crimea opened before the Crimea was declared a ‘free economic zone’.
The ‘free economic zone’ law states that the right to social guarantees and guaranteed contributions applies only to Ukrainian citizens who are not at the same time citizens of the occupying country.
This effectively meant that Crimeans were being treated as non-residents of their own country. The National Bank finally responded to the criticism and claimed that they had resolved the problem. Experts who have examined the new Bank document disagree. They note that the distinction making Crimeas non-residents has remained, which according to human rights activists means that those with Crimean registration are placed on the other side of the law.
Darya Sviridova from the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union says that the National Bank’s demands do not treat Crimeans as Ukrainian citizens
Even those who have received a document confirming that they are internally displaced people and cannot be viewed as non-residents, still have to renew this every 6 months, and that involves enduring huge queues.
Banks are now able to block or close bank accounts of business people or the self-employed. They also make it impossible to open a new account.
Human rights groups are calling on the National Bank to agree to dialogue aimed at resolving the issue and propose creating a working group to tackle the problem.