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Russian bank trio to roll out Islamic finance products

Russian banks' balance sheets have been strained by an economic crisis and Western-imposed sanctions, encouraging efforts to develop sharia-compliant finance to attract investors from the Gulf and southeast Asia. 

But Russia does not have a large Muslim population to provide a ready-made customer base; only about 20 million of its roughly 145 million people are Muslims. So progress rests on a handful of pilot projects and the willingness of regulators to pass legislation that would make Islamic finance cost-effective. 

Those efforts received a boost last month when Russian lenders Vnesheconom Bank , Sber Bank and Tatfond Bank signed agreements with the Islamic Development Bank (IDB)to support their initiatives. 

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