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AMBASSADOR'S ARTICLES

17.08.2015

National System of Payment Cards: more independence (by Ambassador Yakovenko, for RT)

The today’s geopolitical environment made urgent the task of creating the national payment system in Russia. That issue leapt to the top of the national agenda last year when, shortly after U.S. sanctions forced Visa and MasterCard to stop servicing some Russian banks. Such cutoffs obviously present a national security threat.
It is necessary to stress that previously we allowed our western partners in the field of electronic payments to provide services to more than 90% of all cardholders in Russia counting that economy is out of politics but it turned out that this was not the case. Economy has been submerged in politics and is being used as an instrument of political struggle and pressure. Given that fact, we made conclusions and Russian leadership promptly called for the creation of a national system of payment cards that would fence Russia from the risks of service “blackouts” in the future.
In May 2014, President Putin signed into law legislation establishing a national payment system that was called the National System of Payment Cards (NSPC) and was designed to ensure the smooth operation of electronic payments across Russia and beyond. Its introduction decreases Russian users' dependency on foreign analogues and provide a viable alternative.
The new act stipulates that payment system operators and service operators, in addition to participants of the payment system, are not entitled to unilaterally abandon the provision of services necessary for the successful execution of any transfers in Russia. Thus, international payment operators Visa and MasterCard had to fully transfer their transactions inside Russia to processing in the National System of Payment Cards instead of being routed through data centers in other countries. The system currently processes 12-14 million transactions a day and operates without any disruptions.
As we can now see it was the forced choice but surely the right one. Switching to a National System of Payment Cards was done in the interests of all users inside Russia and is intended for implementation of the operations within the international payment systems regardless of external factors.
The NSPC project also stipulates an establishment of a national payment card, which would appear in Russia by the New Year 2016 and will operate both inside the country and abroad. Its acceptance coverage will be very close to that of other major payment systems by the end of next year.
Russia's new national payment card has been given the name “Mir”, a word translating into English as both “Peace”, and “World”. This term is also associated in our country with the “Mir” space station, our planet's first modular space station constructed by Russia, which was assembled in orbit between 1986 and 1996 and had operated until 2001. This brand name was selected through a nationwide online vote on the card’s design entries submitted by companies and individuals across Russia.
According to the National System of Payment Cards department of the Russian Central Bank, we will be able to begin switching to the new payment cards later this year. It is planned issuing 100 million cards over the next two years, some of them co-badged with Visa, MasterCard, JCB, American Express, UnionPay and maybe others systems.
The establishment of the Russian national payment system and payment card is designed to foster investors’ trust and Russian citizens’ confidence in the country’s financial stability and sovereignty. The idea is not to become fully independent from MasterCard, Visa or American Express but to secure the proper and reliable way of using them on the Russian territory for the benefit of all interested parties.
We are trying to make our business environment more attractive for all the participants and therefore welcome a mutually beneficial co-operation with other payment systems.




LATEST EVENTS

09.08.2018 - Letter from Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko to the Guardian’s editor

In response to the Ambassador Beruchashvili’s letter, offering not so much a recollection of the August 2008 events in the Caucasus, but rather a misleading reiteration of the Georgian claims against Russia I have to refer to some of the universally recognized facts and consequences resulting from those tragic events.


24.07.2018 - Eastern Economic Forum: the East is bright (by Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko)

When talking about Russia’s Far East, you invariably remember its stunning natural beauty, abundance in natural resources and vast territories. But when one thinks of its investments prospects, you also invariably remember its harsh climate, low average population density and the lack of transport and other infrastructure. But now the situation is changing fundamentally. The region is undergoing a huge and qualitative revival. The development of the region has been declared one of the national priorities for Russia. In the last 5 years 18 advanced development zones and 5 free ports have been established in the Russian Far East. Long-term tax exemptions have been provided for large investment projects. Paperless e-visas for visitors of Vladivostok are available for citizens of 18 countries.


03.05.2018 - SALISBURY: A CLASSIFIED CASE (by Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko)

On 4 March 2018 two Russian citizens Sergei and Yulia Skripal were reportedly poisoned in Salisbury, Wiltshire with the toxic chemical named A-234 under the British classification. On 12 March Foreign Secretary Johnson summoned me to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and said that Russia was “highly likely” responsible for the attack. He invited us to respond by the next day, whether this had been a direct act by the state or Russia had lost control over this nerve agent. The incident had international repercussions, including expulsion of 150 Russian diplomats from 28 countries, notwithstanding the fact that the charges were based on assumptions and unverifiable intelligence. The Western countries lost the same number of Moscow-based staff. Meanwhile, the British government provided no evidence either to the public, its allies or Russia. Subsequent events revealed that no proof of Russia’s involvement existed. On 1 May, National Security adviser Sir Mark Sedwill confirmed that (despite a number of previous leaks) no suspect had been identified, a statement that speaks for itself.


14.02.2018 - The international community needs a unified legal base to combat information crimes (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

Amid the rapid advance in technologies we face a growing number of cyber-crimes: in 2016, these offences caused damage of $445 billion and by 2020, according to experts, this figure can reach up to $3 trillion, exceeding the overall income received from the Internet.


26.01.2018 - UNGA: Glorification of Nazism must stop (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

In December the UN General Assembly (UNGA) adopted the traditional resolution on “Combating the glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance”. It was supported by an overwhelming majority of UN Member States: 133 states voted for this document, 57 became its co-sponsors, and only Ukraine and the United States voted against.


29.11.2017 - Afghan opium production jumps to record level (by Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko for RT)

According to the latest Afghanistan Opium Survey released by the Afghan Ministry of Counter Narcotics and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in 2017 opium production in Afghanistan increased by 87 per cent to a record level of 9,000 metric tons. The area under opium poppy cultivation also grew by 63 per cent to its highest level of 328,000 hectares. Afghanistan is the world's top cultivator of the poppy from which opium and heroin are produced. The 2017 record levels of opium production and poppy cultivation create multiple challenges for the country, its neighbours and many other countries that serve as a transit for or a destination of Afghan opiates. The significant levels of opium poppy cultivation and illicit trafficking of opiates fuel instability, insurgency and increase funding to terrorist groups in Afghanistan.


19.10.2017 - Why to fight with memorials (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

The campaign in Poland against World War II memorials to Soviet officers and soldiers, who had liberated the country from the Nazi occupation, is gaining momentum. Warsaw has created a legal framework allowing the disposal of Soviet/Russian memorial objects or taking them out of public sight, including the most widespread monuments of gratitude to the Red Army. Why?


18.10.2017 - Syria: collective humanitarian efforts, not sanctions, are needed more than ever (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

The situation in Syria is undergoing serious transformation. Due to the de-escalation process, it has now become possible to drastically reduce the level of violence, to improve the humanitarian situation as well as to fight terrorists more efficiently. The ISIS-controlled territory is shrinking. On 14-15 September, at the international meeting in Astana all four de-escalation zones were finalized.


05.10.2017 - What You Have to Know about Status of Crimea (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

The coup d’état in Kiev in February 2014 backed by the West tore up the constitutional space in Ukraine. The legitimate President of the country was overthrown. It was marked by a severe lack of democracy and violence that posed a direct threat to the well-being of Russian-speaking population of Crimea. Citizens of Crimea faced the choice of becoming an oppressed minority or severing their ties with the hostile regime to secure a future for themselves and their children. The decision to hold a referendum was made by legitimate local authorities. The independence of Crimea was proclaimed and an appeal to enter the Russian Federation was made based on the indisputable results of the popular vote. Standards of international law were fully observed as the right of nations to self-determination enshrined in the UN Charter was exercised freely by the Crimeans. Crimea was recognized as an independent and sovereign state by Russia and on 18 March 2014 in Moscow the two countries signed a Treaty of Unification, under which the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol became two new regions - subjects of the Russian Federation.


05.10.2017 - NATO increased military presence in Europe: road to nowhere (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

As part of the implementation of the conclusions of the NATO Summit in Warsaw, four multinational battlegroups have been deployed in Poland, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia with the total number of troops exceeding 4500. The idea of creating similar rotating units in Bulgaria and Romania in 2018 is being widely discussed by NATO members. If put together, these battlegroups amount to a motorized infantry brigade with heavy weapons.



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