The deadly alliance between Russia and China has moved into banking. Visa and Mastercard suspended all of their services in Russia after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had a phone call with U.S. lawmakers. The move by the credit card companies was announced on Saturday, just days after they had blocked Russian banks from access to their networks.
In a statement, Visa announced the company will “cease all Visa transactions” in Russia. On Sunday, Reuters reported that “several Russian banks said on Sunday they would soon start issuing cards using the Chinese UnionPay card operator’s system couples with Russia’s own Mir network.”
Russia’s biggest lender, Sberbank, as well as Alfa Bank and Tinkoff made the announcements to switch to the Chinese system. Visa Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Al Kelly said in a statement: “We are compelled to act following Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, and the unacceptable events that we have witnessed.”
Visa and Mastercard issued their statements just 16 minutes apart. “We don’t take this decision lightly” said Mastercard in a statement. According to Representative Brad Sherman (D-CA), Zelensky asked the lawmakers on a private video call to turn off Mastercard and Visa for Russia.
The Associated Press reported that “Russia accounted for 4 percent of all of Visa’s net revenue in its last fiscal year, while business conducted within, into and out of Russia similarly accounted for 4 percent of Mastercard’s net revenues in 2021.”
The Associated Press also reported that “since the invasion of Ukraine, the value of the Russian currency, the ruble, has plunged by more than a third to a record low.”
As a result, inflation is dramatically increasing “for Russian households, and all the fear has helped cause long lines at ATMs.”
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Mental health crisis spikes among Afghan women after Taliban regained control two years ago
The women of Afghanistan are suffering a mental health crisis since the Taliban regained power two years ago. According to a joint report from three U.N. agencies released Tuesday, approximately 70% of women experience feelings of anxiety, isolation and depression.
The numbers continue to rise, as there has already been a significant jump between April and June of this year alone, with an increase from 57% the preceding quarter.
The report, conducted by U.N. Women, the International Organization for Migration and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, interviewed women online, in-person and in group consultations as well as individual telesurveys.
592 Afghan women in 22 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces took part in the study. The Associated Press reports:
They have barred women from most areas of public life and work and banned girls from going to school beyond the sixth grade. They have prohibited Afghan women from working at local and non-governmental organizations. The ban was extended to employees of the United Nations in April.
Opportunities to study continued to shrink as community-based education by international organizations was banned and home-based schooling initiatives were regularly shut down by the de facto authorities — a term use by the U.N. for the Taliban government.
Afghanistan is the only country in the world with restrictions on female education and the rights of Afghan women and children are on the agenda of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
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