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22 May, 2024
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Cyprus adopts litmus test on visas for Russians

Nicosia introduces visa rules to filter Russian visitors, door still open to dissidents 'against Putin regime'


Russian citizens wishing to travel to Cyprus will soon need to prove they do not support their president Vladimir Putin, with reports confirming the Cypriot government joined stricter EU-wide measures half a year after Ukraine’s president called on Nicosia to get tough on the island’s Russians.

Foreign ministry sources in the Republic of Cyprus were cited in local media this week confirming that Russian citizens would be assessed an €80 visa application fee starting December 1.

Additional documentary evidence, processing delays, and red tape are also expected, along with more restrictive rules for the issuance of multiple-entry visas, while more frequent scrutiny at the Port of Entry is also likely including immigration officials deciding to cancel a visa upon arrival as well as deny admission into the country.

Last April Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged Cypriots during a televised speech to the House to ease up on Russian dual citizens only if they condemn 'war crimes of their military'

The move comes after months of heated debate in Brussels, with eastern members bordering Russia taking a tough stance and demanding full visa bans, while others including Nicosia sought alternative middle-of-the-road solutions.

In late August, Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides said he was against an across-the-board ban on Russian visitors in response to the war in Ukraine, citing a need for citizens to maintain social ties as well as warning that foe Turkey was taking advantage of EU sanctions against Moscow.

There are thousands of Russians living in the Republic of Cyprus, with many traveling back home frequently while others are running businesses, mainly in Limassol, a southern town colloquially dubbed "Limassolgrad."

Kasoulides reportedly told his EU counterparts during an informal meeting on August 31 that it was “important that measures go against Putin’s regime but without a negative impact on the Russian people.”

An early September verdict by the European Council, which decided to suspend an EU-Russia visa facilitation agreement, took into account moderate calls by Kasoulides and others by reintroducing general visa rules for Russian citizens instead of a blanket ban.

The European Commission was also expected to present additional guidelines to “ensure this suspension does not negatively impact certain people” travelling to the EU for essential purposes, such as journalists, dissidents and civil society representatives.

Last April Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged Cypriot lawmakers during a televised speech to ease up on dual citizens only if they condemn what he called “war crimes of their military,” referring to actions by Russian troops inside Ukraine.

“Perhaps if it is verified and clearly proven that some of them condemn the war crimes of their military and do not intend to use your jurisdiction to avoid sanctions and other restrictions against Russia, only then it will be permissible to treat these people in the old way,” Zelensky suggested.

Restrictive visa rules for Russians will go into effect December 1.

Currently and until November 30, Russians applying for Cyprus visas do not have to pay a fee while the travel document is not valid for travel to Schengen Area countries.

Cyprus  |  Russia  |  Ukraine  |  EU  |  passport  |  travel  |  visa  |  ban  |  war  |  Zelensky  |  Kasoulides

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