FOREIGN Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Stanley Kakubo says there is no apparent need to evacuate Zambians citizens from Russia.
Giving a Ministerial Statement to Parliament, Tuesday, Kakubo said the current situation in Russia was generally calm.
“May I also report to the House, that the current security situation in Russia is generally calm and people are, to a large extent, going about their daily business normally. There is no apparent need, at present, to evacuate any of our citizens from Russia. The House may also wish to note that mediation efforts in the conflict have increased and we can only hope for a peaceful and speedy outcome. Allow me to reiterate our assurances to the Zambian people that their government, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, will continue to monitor the situation in Russia. The government remains committed to continue working tirelessly to ensure the wellbeing and safety of its nationals in Russia,” he said.
He said some sanctions imposed on Russia by some members of the international community which included the ban on major Russian banks had impacted the welfare of some students.
“We have 555 government sponsored students, and 156 known self-sponsored students, across 49 cities in Russia. This brings the total number of known Zambian students studying in Russia to 711. The sanctions imposed on Russia by some members of the international community include, among others, a ban on seven major Russian banks from using the ‘society for worldwide interbank financial telecommunications’ (swift) banking system. As expected, these sanctions have adversely and directly impacted the welfare of some of our students due to the fact that, they are unable to access their finances from some major Russian banks,” he said.
He said Zambian students were advised to consider opening accounts with Russian commercial banks.
“I wish to inform this August House that, the Russian authorities have acknowledged the challenge being experienced not only by foreign students, but many other members of their society, including the diplomatic community (our mission in Moscow inclusive). The Russian authorities are working out modalities to find an immediate solution to this challenge. Madam Speaker, to ease the consequences of this challenge, the Russian government has advised that those experiencing challenges in accessing their funds, consider opening bank accounts with Russian commercial banks that have not been secluded from the swift system. These include the following: ROS Bank, Credit Europe Bank, Ural Bank of Reconstruction and Development, Expo Bank, Raiffeisen Bank, Citi Bank, Post Bank, Tinkoff bank, Alfa bank, MTS Bank and NDB Bank,” Kakubo said.
“They further recommend that international transactions be made using the Russian Rouble or Chinese Yuan, because the blockade on foreign currencies applies to only the United States Dollar and the Euro. The House may wish to note that, most Zambian students in Russia use three types of visa cards issued by UBA Bank of Zambia to draw cash from cash points dotted around Russia. Some students are managing to access their money, while others are failing.”
Kakubo said parents were advised to use Union Pay as an alternative to VISA and MasterCard transactions.
“On our part as government, we have engaged the management of UBA bank, and are, therefore, advising the parents and guardians of the students to consider, as an alternative to visa and MasterCard transactions, the option of using Union Pay. Union pay is a Chinese financial service utilized for secured transactions and is available in over 180 countries, and throughout Russia,” said Kakubo.
Meanwhile, Speaker of the National Assembly Nelly Mutti clarified that Kwacha PF member of parliament Joseph Malanji should not have been suspended from the House together with 30 PF MPs who staged a protest in Parliament due to the fact that he was not among the protesters.