Belarusians have their bank cards blocked again in Ukraine

Belarusians have had problems with bank cards for more than a year / Collage by Ulad Rubanau, Euroradio
Belarusians have had problems with bank cards for more than a year / Collage by Ulad Rubanau, Euroradio

Clients of one of the most popular banks in Ukraine, Privatbank, started having problems with their debit cards. The bank offers to wait and promise to contact customers later. You can also contact a bank branch to try to transfer money to foreign cards, but not everyone has such an opportunity.

Euroradio found out what is happening.

"I don't use cash. So I got in real trouble"

The National Bank of Ukraine blocked the cards of Belarusians almost immediately after the start of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Some managed to get them unblocked. Now it turned out that the funds of these people were also inaccessible.

Беларусам зноў заблакавалі карткі ва Украіне. “Ніводнай грыўні наяўных”

"I tried to log in to my mobile banking application. I couldn't do it ten times," says Belarusian journalist, freelance analyst at the Center for Strategic Communications and Information Security Dzmitry Halko. "In the chat of Belarusian journalists I saw that all citizens of Belarus who are in Ukraine face the same problem. Their mobile applications and cards are blocked.

I went to Privatbank. They looked at my document for a long time. I have a certificate that I am under the protection of Ukraine. They asked several times if I had any other documents. I also showed them the accreditation from the Ministry of Defense. They said they would call if they could do anything. Allegedly, there was no new decision [of the National Bank of Ukraine - Euroradio]. Again, for some reason, the old solution was put into effect. That's all I know for now".

Беларусам зноў заблакавалі карткі ва Украіне. “Ніводнай грыўні наяўных”
Screenshot of Dzmitry Halko's mobile banking app / Dzmitry Halko

Last year, Dzmitry's card was unblocked after an appeal from the Belarusian Association of Journalists to Ukrainian officials. The card worked fine for almost a year. Now Dzmitry was left in Kyiv without money.

"I do not have a single hryvnia. I just don't use cash. That's the real problem. It's not the biggest problem, but it's hard. All movements within the country, possible trip to the front, how do you buy tickets online? 

Refugees can not get a card that works

Беларусам зноў заблакавалі карткі ва Украіне. “Ніводнай грыўні наяўных”
Letter from the bank / Aryna Korshunava

The Belarusian activist Aryna Korshunava also managed to solve the problem with the bills through the BAJ. Now her card is blocked again.

Беларусам зноў заблакавалі карткі ва Украіне. “Ніводнай грыўні наяўных”

"I was living with bills, I was very happy to have such an opportunity. In fact, due to martial law, the commission on other cards, especially currency cards, is quite high. And this morning I received a letter that I was a "terrorist" and my account was blocked.

A few weeks ago, the first people who had their accounts unblocked last year were blocked again. So I already understood that such a situation is possible. I withdrew all my money except for one hundred dollars. The letter from the bank says that I can come to any branch of the Privatbank within thirty days and ask to transfer my money to another card. I am lucky to have the opportunity to travel. I opened an account in Poland to transfer money.

But, unfortunately, there are Belarusians who have applied for refugee status in Ukraine. They do not have the opportunity to leave and make a card in any European bank. Unfortunately, Privatbank does not believe that Revolut and Wise are real banks. It considers them to be financial companies not suitable as an alternative way to withdraw money.

The journalist does not expect the cards to be unblocked in the near future, but she tries to be understanding.

"I am lucky to have friends in Ukraine who share their Privatbank with me. In Ukraine, during the war, this is the most convenient bank". 

SBU stopped responding to messages

The blocking of cards is a continuation of the policy of squeezing Belarusians out of Ukraine, says Barys Haretski, chairman of the Belarusian Association of Journalists.

"Banks have been following this policy for a year. And we can hardly influence them. At the beginning of the war there were about a hundred Belarusian journalists in Ukraine. Thanks to the BAJ, about half of them managed to have their accounts unblocked. Then, unfortunately, the SBU stopped communicating with us".

In order for the National Bank of Ukraine to allow someone's account to be unblocked, you must first pass an inspection at the SBU.

"The European Association of Journalists has also appealed to the SBU, and so did the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine. But the SBU remains adamant. Since October, it has not even responded to my appeals," Barys Haretski concludes. 

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