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Putin orders Russian CB to help sanctions-hit bank

MOSCOW (AP) - Russia's President Vladimir Putin has ordered the country's central bank to help clients of Rossiya, a Russian lender hit by U.S sanctions.

Yesterday, President Barack Obama ordered economic sanctions against nearly two dozen members of Putin's inner circle and Rossiya, Russia's 15th largest lender that provides them support.

Rossiya says Visa and MasterCard have stopped providing services to them. U.S. officials describe the bank, which has $12 billion in assets, as a "personal bank for senior officials of the Russian Federation.

Putin denies he has an account there but has ordered the country's central bank "take the bank's clients under protection and provide all possible assistance to them."

Putin also says he'll open a bank account there on Monday and has asked his salary to be transferred there.