Ukraine activists target Deutsche Bank over Yanukovych links
Ukrainian activists on Monday targeted the Kiev offices of Germany's Deutsche Bank, claiming that it was handling corruption money from President Viktor Yanukovych's inner circle.
Shouting "Bloody Money!" and holding up a banner saying: "Stop working with Yanukovych", they laid out banknotes stained in blood outside the bank's offices in the city.
They dipped the fake banknotes in a bathtub with red paint marked "UKRAINE" and laid them out on the snow to spell out Yanukovych's name.
The opposition accuses the German bank of doing business with a Ukrainian bank owned by Oleksandr Yanukovych, the president's tycoon son, and thereby helping government corruption.
The claims cannot be independently verified.
"Deutsche Bank in this case looks like a laundry for Ukrainian corrupted money," said Viktor Andrusiv, one of a small group of activists at the protest.
Andrusiv said he hoped that sanctions that are currently being debated in Europe and the United States would hit Ukrainian officials where it hurts -- their foreign bank accounts.
"The point of being in power in Ukraine for them is the corruption. They steal money from the budget and they put it in Europe," he said.
Reports of corruption are widespread and the opposition accuses Yanukovych as well as his family and friends of enriching themselves during his four-year rule.
Andrusiv said some $20 billion (15 billion euros) went missing from Ukraine's public budget every year due to corruption.
Oleksiy Rybenko, the deputy head of Deutsche Bank in Ukraine, came out to speak to the protesters and said he would pass on their concerns to the bank's management in Frankfurt.
"It's better for Deutsch Bank somehow to react because of potential reputational risk.
"It's better somehow to inform the society about the relations with Yanukovych and their business," Rybenko said.
The protest was organised by Ukraine's Democratic Alliance party which staged a similar rally last week outside Deutsche Bank's office on Wall Street in New York.
Anti-government activists have also picketed the London home of tycoon Rinat Akhmetov, who is considered the ruling party's main sponsor, and a villa in Vienna allegedly belonging to former prime minister Mykola Azarov's family.
In a mocking anti-Yanukovych gesture on Monday, activists installed a golden toilet on a pedestal where a statue of Lenin used to stand before it was ripped down by protesters.
Among the accusations against Yanukovych that have fueled the demonstrations is the charge that he had gold toilets installed at his sprawling country estate near Kiev.
© 2014 AFP