Georgian airline to accept Russian Mir payment system
Georgian Airways accepts Russian Mir card
The Russian Mir payment system will now be accepted as a payment method on the website of the Georgian airline “Georgian Airways” as well as MasterCard and Visa. Director of the company Tamaz Gaiashvili says that the main priority for him is to sell tickets:
“If something can be done to sell a ticket, all systems will work. I do not join the sanctions and I am not obliged [to join them], I am not a state, I am a private company. I am interested in selling the ticket, how it will be sold, people absolutely do not care,” Tamaz Gaiashvili told Radio Liberty, adding that if demanded, he would not refuse direct flights to Russia.
However, Gaiashvili also says that it was not the company itself that added the Russian company Mir to the site’s payment systems, he suggests that this is the decision of the banks which the airline cooperates with.
The company’s decision was heavily criticized by the opposition. At a special briefing, the chairman of the opposition United National Movement party, Nika Melia, said that by joining the Russian payment system, Georgian Airways is helping Russia bypass Western sanctions.
According to him, the airline is establishing commercial relations with the Russian payment system, which operates illegally in the occupied Abkhazia and violates the law on the occupied territories.
The European Georgia party also reacted to the connection of the Georgian airline to the “Mir”. The party claims that “Georgia is not a loophole for Russia”.
“Maximum effectiveness of financial sanctions against Russia is one of the main guarantees of the security of the Georgian state – the easing of sanctions for the occupier is a betrayal of Georgia’s national interests!”, the party said in a statement.
It is noteworthy that some Georgian politicians went so far as to demand that Georgia be connected to the Mir system. According to MP Fridon Indjija, “if we don’t take action in time, we may be left without wheat”.
“We vote against Russia in all international organizations, but this is business, and this is money on which our population can exist, and transfers that come from there, and wheat, which we only have enough left for two months, as I heard, is not the price not to pay exorbitantly. We receive 40% of oil from Russia, we need to start negotiations on this issue so that we can stand on our own feet and get some profit”, Indjiya said.
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What is “Mir”
Mir is a special banking system created in Russia and for the Russian market, which operates outside the country. Georgia is not included in the list of countries where “Mir” is officially used.
The Russian payment system is used in Turkey, Vietnam, Armenia, Uzbekistan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, as well as in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which Russia has recognized as independent states.
Russia began creating Mir in 2014, after the annexation of Crimea, the West began to discuss the imposition of financial sanctions against Moscow. Today, when VISA and Mastercard left Russia because of the war in Ukraine, Mir has already issued more than 100 million cards and covers all regions of the Russian Federation.
From July 2021, the Russian government will only use Mir to allocate budget funds, including salaries, pensions and scholarships for civil servants.
On February 28, the fourth day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Mir system was blocked by the Israeli airline EL AL, for which Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba thanked the company on Twitter.