In any annual report published by a bank with business in eastern Europe, the section on Ukraine makes for painful reading. The country has been hit particularly hard by the financial crisis, with a precipitous rise in sour loans savaging banks’ balance sheets.

According to figures from the central bank, 36% of Ukraine’s banks made a loss in 2009, dragging the banking sector to an aggregate loss of HRN38.5bn (US$4.8bn). The biggest losers, as it were, include the local unit of Sweden’s Swedbank and the nationalised Ukrgazbank and Rodovid Bank.

Rodovid was formerly run by pole-vaulting champion Sergey Bubka, whose world records in 1993 (outdoor) and 1994 (indoor) still stand today. Although new data shows that Ukraine’s banks narrowed their losses in the first two months of this year, it will be difficult for many to reach their former heights any time soon.

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