Kyrgyz Still Suffering From Ban on Russian Bank Cards

The head of Kyrgyzstan’s cabinet of ministers, Akylbek Zhaparov, has told media that it wasn’t his decision to terminate the interbank agreement with Russia’s MIR payment system. According to him, the Interbank Processing Center (IPC) that services the Kyrgyz payment system Elkart — which previously had a contract with the Russian MIR system — does not belong to the government, but rather is run by commercial banks. He added that Kyrgyz authorities learned of the system’s disconnection only after it occurred.

Zhaparov commented: “Even the National Bank does not have control over the MPC, which is more than 54 percent owned by commercial banks. I assume that these commercial banks may have feared sanctions… It would be good if the MPC coordinated this issue with the cabinet, because there are more than a million of our citizens in Russia. All of them used the MIR card.”

Zhaparov emphasized that while Kyrgyz citizens benefited from MIR’s presence in Kyrgyzstan, the closure of the system will have almost no effect on Russians. He said that work is already underway to find alternatives.

On April 5 the IPC informed the Kyrgyz public about the shutdown of MIR “in order to minimize [the risk of] secondary sanctions” by the United States. Many travel companies in Kyrgyzstan have sounded the alarm — about 90% of all tourists coming to Kyrgyzstan are from Russia.


Times of Central Asia