Several dozen Ukrainian activists held a protest in Vienna on the evening of December 2 calling on Raiffeisen Bank International to pull out of the Russian market, reports B4Ukraine coalition, which, together with the Vienna-based NGO Mrija, co-organized the rally.
RBI is one of the largest foreign banks remaining in Russia, employing 9,000 staff in-country. In the first nine months of 2022, RBI earned half its net profit from the Russian market. This year, it made €1.4 billion in profit in Russia — four times more than in the same period last year. These earnings suggest that RBI still pays significant amounts in taxes to the Russian state, thus indirectly contributing to funding for Russia’s devastating war, war crimes, and atrocities in Ukraine.
The demonstrators gathered near the Alserbach Palace, where the management of Raiffeisen Bank was having a holiday party. Employees of the bank walked past the demonstrators, who explained through loudspeakers why Raiffeisen Bank should leave Russia, and displayed photos of the atrocities of the Russian occupiers in Bucha and Izyum, as well as posters with the inscriptions “Russia is a terrorist state”, “Putin is a war criminal”, “Close Visa and MasterCard issued in Russia”, etc.
B4Ukraine Executive Director Ellie Nichol emphasizes that while many international banks have announced plans to exit Russia, the RBI has remained. “Its employees, shareholders and leadership must now ask themselves how they feel about this. Is RBI’s bouncy bottom line worth the long-term legal and reputational price of doing business with Russia?” says Nichol.
According to Andry Karioti, an activist of the Ukrainian community in Vienna, every company employee is indirectly involved in Russian war crimes on the territory of Ukraine, as long as it remains in Russia. “If this is Raiffeisen’s choice, then there was nothing left but to wish them a delicious punch with Ukrainian blood,” says Karioti.
This is the fourth protest organized by Mrija activists demanding that RBI leaves Russia. Last March under pressure from the public and the media, RBI CEO Johann Strobl said that “a bank is not a sausage stand.”
International companies, including RBI, are now obliged to assist the Kremlin’s war mobilization. According to Reuters, a Russian employee of Austria’s Raiffeisen Bank International was killed after being mobilised to fight against Ukraine, despite the bank writing to the draft office seeking an exemption. Raiffeisen in Russia declined to comment and its head office in Austria, as well as the Russian Defence Ministry, did not immediately respond to Reuters inquiries. B4Ukraine also wrote to Raiffeisen to request a meeting but has not received any response.