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Putin Says Ban On Foreign Bank Branches Will Continue --> President Vladimir Putin (file photo) (epa) 15 December 2005 -- Russian President Vladimir Putin has said foreign banks should not be allowed to open branches in the country.

Addressing a gathering of Russian bankers in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, Putin said that his government believes the activities of foreign bank branches should be limited and, "in essence," forbidden.

Putin said the measure was necessary not only to preserve Russian banks from foreign competition, but also to make it easier for law-enforcement agencies to trace dirty money and terror-related funds.

Foreign banks in Russia are currently allowed to operate only through subsidiaries that must be registered in the country.

The United States, which has yet to agree to Russia's entry into the World Trade Organization, insists that foreign banks be allowed to open branches in Russia. It has made the issue a precondition for Moscow's membership.