efe_epaKiev

Ukrainian nationalists took to using bricks and mortar in a protest that sealed off the entrance to a Russian-owned bank in Kiev, an epa photographer witnessed on Monday.

Members of the Azov Civil Corps, an activist group created to support Ukrainian soldiers fighting pro-Russian separatists in the country's east, have demanded that all businesses with links to Russia be prohibited from operating in Ukraine.

Demonstrators waving blue and yellow flags emblazoned with Ukraine's national emblem looked on as cinder blocks were passed down a line of people towards the entrance of a branch of the state-owned Sberbank of Russia in Kiev's city center.

Each block of masonry was then slathered in mortar paste and added to a haphazard wall that sealed off access to the corrugated shutters of the bank's main entrance.

Workers at the bank had closed the branch early because of the protests and there were no security operatives or police present at the scene.

The epa correspondent captured the moment an activist, clad head-to-toe in black, applied some of the cement mix with a bricklayer's trowel.

In another shot, one protester burned a bright orange flare while his associate released smoke from a canister in front of a section of the sprawling graffiti on the walls of the bank which, in an attempt to dissuade Ukrainian clientele read: "Rus Bank."

Relations between Kiev and Moscow have spiraled downward since the 2014 Ukrainian revolution which overthrew the Russophile president Viktor Yanukovich after he backtracked on closer ties with the European Union.

Pro-Moscow rebels in the largely Russian-speaking east of the nation objected to the events in Kiev and revolted, meanwhile Russia annexed the Crimea.

The resulting war in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk between the rebels and the Ukrainian army_ backed by nationalist militias_ has claimed the lives of around 10,000 people according to the United Nations.

Kiev has accused Russia of aiding rebel efforts in those regions.

Russia has denied those claims, but several Kremlin decisions, including an order to recognize the validity of passports issued by rebels in eastern Ukraine, have further stoked anti-Russian sentiment in the capital.