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The Cradle
Under threat of sanctions, some Turkish hotels reject Russian credit cards
Despite several major Turkish banks adopting Russia's payment system, businesses in Turkey are expressing fear of being sanctioned by the west
By News Desk - September 16 2022

(Photo credit: Alexandr Ryumin/TASS)

Russian media reported on 15 September that a number of hotels across Turkey are no longer accepting credit cards that use Russia’s Mir payment system, which was recently adopted by several major Turkish banks.

The Alva Donna World Palace resort in Antalya told its customers that a “worldwide outage” caused the cards to stop working briefly, but that they were now reprocessing them.

Despite this, several other hotels have not reinstated the Mir system.

“Payments, indeed, in some hotels have been terminated. There were even signs, messages, and mailing on this topic to travel agencies,” Dmitry Danilenko, the editor of the Russian tourism outlet, TourDom, told media. He stressed that this did not apply to all hotels and resorts.

“As for accepting a Mir card in Turkey as a whole, cards of this system continue to be accepted. You can withdraw money from ATMs, you can pay with them in stores. Everything as before depends on which Russian bank issued the card,” he added.

Danilenko said, however, that the halting of the Mir system may also be due to some Turkish banks being afraid to process the payments over the risk of western sanctions.

The Executive Director for the Association of Tour Operators of Russia (ATOR), Maya Lomidze, clarified to media: “If there is a problem, it’s not general, it’s just point-in-time… There is no problem with the cards of banks that are not covered by the sanctions. There is also no evidence that the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey has an order to ban the acceptance of the Mir card.”

Issues with the Mir payment system in Turkey are likely to be a direct result of a recent buildup of pressure being exerted on Ankara by the US and the EU.

According to a Financial Times report, Washington and its allies will be focusing their efforts on sanctioning Turkey for its banking system’s adoption of the Mir payment method, in order to make sure that Turkish banks do not serve as a sanctions-evasion mechanism.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry has stressed, however, that it will not allow the country to become a “channel to evade sanctions,” and a number of Turkish banks have issued statements vowing “strict compliance” with all US and western sanctions, and have asserted that they do not deal with sanctioned Russian banks.

This increase in western pressure comes amid heightened energy and business cooperation between Russia and Turkey, who did not sanction Moscow following its invasion of Ukraine.

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