Russian businesses in the Republic of Cyprus are rumored to be moving to the northern part of the island to avoid sanctions, amid reports that more Cypriot nationals in the south are expected to be added to a new list of “Russian enablers.”
Members of parliament in Nicosia have expressed concern over Russian businessmen fleeing the state and moving north to the internationally-unrecognized side to avoid European sanctions.
According to Sigmalive, independent MP Kostis Efstathiou confirmed with the network’s publication Economy Today on Friday that “Russian businessmen are relocating their headquarters both to the occupied areas as well as Arab countries.”
Last month Cypriot banks shut down thousands of accounts belonging to Russian nationals after Nicosia voluntarily doubled down on additional sanctions imposed by Washington and London that target local entities and individuals viewed as “Russian enablers.”
Reports said over a dozen Cypriot entities and individuals have been placed on the list and more were expected, while reports said local banks have also called off agreements with such professionals.
The move came as Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides sought more information from the US and UK, while also declaring “we must in no way allow or enable anyone to tarnish the name of our country.”
'Today one year later businesses go bankrupt, services agencies are closing and people are losing their jobs... and the political elite will have to deal with the problem and its consequences'
Last year Efstathiou told Sigmalive that “Russia absolutely must pay the price over its invasion in Ukraine” while also suggesting “confiscated and requisitioned assets could be used through the establishment of a European fund to benefit projects for the common good.”
Media reports recently suggested a Russian wave from south to north was in the works for some time after Brussels sought ways to sever economic ties with Moscow, which has been growing farther apart with Nicosia even on travel between the two countries.
In December 2022 local reports picked up on Turkish Cypriot media that suggested Moscow was open to establishing direct flights with the north, but Russian officials failed to confirm any such plans.
After a flight ban on Russian flights was imposed by the European Union including the Republic of Cyprus, which also adopted additional restrictions, Russians living on both sides of the island have called for new routes through Turkey, with hype about living in the north getting a boost on social media and video platforms.
Direct international flights to the north have so far been politically unworkable due to the division of the island, which remains ethnically divided for over half a century.
Last year former Russian ambassador to Cyprus Stanislav Osadchiy said in a televised interview that “Europeans were shooting themselves in the foot” and asked "how will Cyprus get Russian tourists?”
“Russian tourists will not come here. Where are they going to go? Turkey, that’s where they’ll go,” Osadchiy told the Greek Cypriot interviewer, adding “is this what you want?”
“You closed down Cypriot airspace, you shot yourselves in the foot, and we also don’t want this to happen,” Osadchiy added.
Sanctions, local businesses, and the elite
In another twist, opposition MP Kyriakos Hadjiyiannis also took to Twitter on Friday to say he was planning to register the sanctions issue for debate.
Hadjiyiannis criticized the Greek Cypriot elite and government over failing to support local businesses affected by sanctions linked to the war in Ukraine “in contrast with other countries of the European Union,” with the Disy MP citing Irish and French schemes as examples.
“Today one year later businesses go bankrupt, services agencies are closing and people are losing their jobs,” he wrote.
Hadjiyiannis said he had brought up the issue one year ago and suggested “the political elite will have to deal with the problem and its consequences.”
“I will bring the issue back to the House,” he said.