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Russia curbs bank movements for Italian clients of Intesa, UniCredit units

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FILE PHOTO: A Russian state flag flies over the Central Bank headquarters in Moscow
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MILAN (Reuters) -Russia has placed temporary restrictions on the current accounts of Italian individuals and companies that bank with the local units of Intesa Sanpaolo and UniCredit, two people familiar with the matter said.

Confirming press reports, the people said the Bank of Russia had told the local arms of Italy's top two lenders that from May 25, Italian residents and companies, as well as the Italian consulates, could not withdraw money from their accounts without approval from the local bank heads.

Deposits that lift an account's balance above 100,000 euros ($107,150) are also banned, in a measure matching one imposed by the European Union on Russian nationals, the sources said.

Also, Italian companies and citizens who do not have a Russian residency permit would not be allowed to open new accounts, they added.

The Italian embassy and its general consulates in Russia bank with Intesa, Italy's biggest lender.

The Italian general consulate in Moscow said on its website it regretted the difficulties faced by Russian citizens as a result of the problems Banca Intesa was encountering in executing transactions concerning consular duties.

The Italian embassy separately mentioned on Instagram the restrictions introduced by the Bank of Russia which hampered the payments for consular duties.

Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Intesa has said it is conducting a strategic review of its presence in Russia, where it serves corporate clients with a staff of around 980.

UniCredit runs Russia's 14th largest bank and has been working towards an exit. It has failed to secured a deal so far, with people close to the process saying the exit is complicated by the bank's determination not to destroy value in a sale.

CEO Andrea Orcel has said escalating international sanctions have left only a "very small window" to pull out, adding it could only happen if the bank found a solution not to leave its 4,000 Russian staff and 1,250 European corporate clients in the lurch. ($1 = 0.9333 euros)

(Reporting by Valentina Za; editing by Agnieszka Flak and Keith Weir)

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