Depositors Hold First Moscow Bank Protest

Depositors with a small bank took to the streets in central Moscow on Friday to demand the return of their funds, the first publicized bank protest the capital has seen during the credit crisis.

On Friday, around 15 protesters lined up across the street from Capital Credit bank's offices, some holding posters that read "2008 = 1998."

The organizers said they had requested a permit to accommodate 70 members of its depositors' organization but received a permit for just over a dozen.

They said they had been unable to make withdrawals from the bank for two to three months.

"The bank has effectively suspended withdrawals but has not put this down in writing. Depositors are being told to write a statement [demanding their withdrawal], but it goes nowhere," said Dmitry Trofimov, a member of the depositors' group.

Bank officials declined comment.

The government has attempted to sooth depositors' worries that the financial crisis will consume their savings, as the ruble collapse did in 1998. Government deposit insurance has been raised to 700,000 rubles, far more than the average depositor is likely to have.

Deposit outflows reached 6 percent in October in the weeks after a crisis of confidence in the financial system after liquidity fears forced the state to bail out a few small banks.