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Sberbank to Buy 25% Stake in Muslim Charity Platform PayZakat

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Russian state-controlled lender Sberbank will buy 25% of PayZakat, an online platform that collects charity for Muslims in need, the bank announced on Tuesday, according to VC.ru.

Zakat is a form of alms-giving treated in Islam as a religious obligation or tax, which, by Quranic ranking, is next after prayer in importance. Global zakat collections reach $500 billion a year.

PayZakat allows its users to calculate the contribution amount, and channel it to the charity of their choice, with the help of chat bots integrated into the social networks, as well as to receive status updates on the contribution, Intellinews wrote.

Sberbank sees global and universal potential for PayZakat, the start-up that was the first winner of the bank’s corporate accelerator Sber#Up for its own employees.

Previously in 2017 the bank considered establishing an Islamic Finance unit and proposing regulatory changes that would make running sharia-compliant deals in Russia possible. There are about 20mn Muslims among Russian population of 145mn.

Sberbank is at the forefront of Russian digital development, having adopted an ambitious digitally-driven strategy and preparing to launch its Sber digital ecosystem in short- to medium-term. The bank was also the anchor organizer of a recent meeting with the President Vladimir Putin on AI development, which was paired with an establishment of a $2 billion AI investment fund by the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF).

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Erdogan says he will not declare ceasefire in northern Syria

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has made it clear to U.S. President Donald Trump that Turkey will never declare a ceasefire in northern Syria and will not negotiate with Kurdish forces it is fighting in its offensive into the region.

Turkey forged ahead with its offensive against the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia in northern Syria on Tuesday despite U.S. sanctions and calls for it to stop, while Syria’s Russia-backed army moved on the key city of Manbij that was abandoned by U.S. forces.

The YPG, the key component of the forces who fought Islamic State, is seen by Ankara as a terrorist group linked to Kurdish separatist insurgents in Turkey.

On Monday, Trump announced sanctions on Turkey to punish it for the offensive. On Tuesday, a senior U.S. official said Washington would threaten more sanctions to persuade Turkey to reach a ceasefire and halt its offensive.

However, speaking to reporters on a flight back from Baku, Erdogan said the offensive would continue until it reaches its aims, and added that he was not worried about sanctions.

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Woman killed in Russian apartment building blast

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A woman died and other young woman sustained injuries when a five-story building partially collapsed following an explosion in Russian village of Novonezhino.

Around 17 apartments were damaged when the ceiling slab, wall and the stair case of the building collapsed, Emergency Department said.

“The people were evacuated, 17 apartments were damaged. Seven elders have been transferred to temporary accommodation center,” the authorities said.

Rescue crews were searching for people who are believed to be trapped under the rubble. Rescuers were assisting the residents save their pets and belongings from the damaged apartments.

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Greek Church recognizes autonomy of Orthodox Church of Ukraine

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The leading figures of the Church of Greece decided at a meeting this weekend to recognize the autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU), making it the first of the Eastern Orthodox churches to take such a step.

The Holy Synod of the Church of Greece recognized the autonomy of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine in line with a request by the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios

The Orthodox Times says the Greeks’ formal recognition will take place October 19 in Thessaloniki, with Archbishop Ieronymos and the OCU’s Metropolitan Epifaniy of Kyiv and All Ukraine present.

The Patriarchate of Constantinople, generally considered the spiritual headquarters for Orthodoxy, granted the Orthodox Church of Ukraine independence in January in a move that was adamantly resisted by Moscow and the Russian Orthodox Church. The new Orthodox Church of Ukraine installed its first metropolitan, Epifaniy, at a ceremony in Kyiv on February 3 in a process that further established the new church body’s independence

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