Russian banks write off debts for victims of shelling near Ukraine border

By Thomson Reuters Mar 26, 2024 | 10:18 AM

(Reuters) – Two Russian banks have decided to write off the debts of those who have been killed or seriously injured by shelling in regions bordering Ukraine, mirroring a move made by lenders in the wake of Friday’s deadly attack on a concert hall near Moscow.

More than 20 banks rushed to offer debt relief to the victims and families of Friday’s attack that killed at least 139 people and wounded 180 others.

The Bank of Russia’s key interest rate currently stands at 16%, with stubbornly high inflation preventing the bank from easing borrowing costs. Banks reported record profits in 2023 as consumer, corporate and mortgage lending all soared.

Sovcombank and Home Bank said they would write off loans to victims of shelling in regions near Ukraine.

Belgorod, 40 km (25 miles) north of the border with Ukraine, is on Russia’s front lines and scores of civilians have been killed there in drone and missile strikes from Ukraine since February 2022.

Kyiv denies targeting civilians just as Moscow does, despite Russia having launched drones and missiles against Ukraine that have killed thousands of civilians and caused hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of damage.

Sovcombank, in a statement expressing condolences to victims of shelling, said outstanding loans for customers who were killed or seriously injured by Ukrainian shelling or drone strikes would be written off in a continuation of customer support policies following the March 22 Moscow shooting rampage.

“This support applies to immediate family members: parents, spouses, children who live together with the client,” Sovcombank said.

(Writing by Alexander Marrow; Editing by Keith Weir)