Russian shop says dasvidanyia after bank decides to pull plug

IT is perhaps the worst Christmas surprise any shop owner can ask for.

After more than a decade of trading, the Capital's only Russian-themed shop has announced that it is to close for good on Christmas Eve.

The St Mary's Street business, aptly called The Russian Shop, will draw its shutters on authentic imported wares including Russian Dolls, hats and porcelain.

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Moscow-born owner Zoya Beaton said that she had been shocked at having to close after her bank, RBS, called time on the business.

She said: "They just said they were closing all my accounts and they want the money from my overdraft back, which is about 20,000.

"They wanted me to take a loan to minimise the overdraft, but I didn't want to.

"The credit crunch has hit the shop, we have had less business, but still I made around 8000 profit this year.

"We have carried our own since it opened in 2000. I don't know why they've taken this decision. There was no reason to close the shop.

"It's very sad, particularly so because of the time of year and also because it is unique to Edinburgh and to Scotland.

"I have customers who come from all over the UK, from London to the Highlands, specifically for my goods that come direct from Russia.

"This is the last place in the Capital you'd find tartan tat. In fact, you'd never find Russian tat in here."

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Zoya, 57, who is married to Glaswegian Ian Beaton, set the shop up in 2000 after moving to Morningside from Moscow in 1991. She has lived near West Linton since 1994.

She added: "I am a teacher by profession, so I hope to find a job teaching Russian and German and, as a foreign language, English.

"Ian and I plan to keep living in Scotland. I wouldn't go back to Moscow to live but I've gone back frequently to get stock."

Graham Kenny, owner of coffee shop Has Beans in the Canongate, said it was a shame to see the shop shut.

He said: "It's sad because Zoya, who as one of our regulars was popular with the locals, and her shop were a credit - real assets - to St Mary's Street.

"It's a shame the shutters are going up on Christmas Eve."

A spokesman for RBS said: "As we've not received authority from the customer, we are not able to discuss the case in detail. However, there will always be some businesses that are disappointed with the decisions we make.

"We always explain the reasons for a loan decline and offer customers a second opinion via our business hotline."

The bank also said that gross new lending facilities of 7.6 billion were extended to small and medium enterprises during the third quarter of this year.