Russians in Cyprus

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A Russian minimarket in Limassol

A 2001 government census showed that there were 4,952 people of Russian origin living in Cyprus.[1] Most of them arrived in Cyprus in the 1990s. Even if press reports in 2011 stated that over 100,000 people of Russian origin live in Cyprus;[citation needed]the 2011 government census showed that there were only 10,520 people of Russian origin living in Cyprus. Most of them (4,580 - around 50%) live in the city of Limassol.[2] Russian schools and Orthodox Churches have been built, and a Russian-language television and radio service has been set up.[3]

"It must be said that the infrastructure for Russian-speaking people in Cyprus is excellent. Limassol is considered to be the most Russian of all Cypriot cities. There are Russian schools here, which apply the Russian education system, children’s hobby clubs and dance and musical schools. There are Russian shops, Russian radio and Russian newspapers. This is why a Russian speaker feels very much at ease in Limassol."

The Voice of Russia "Russian Cyprus"[4]


The ties between Russia and Cyprus are both historical and religious. More than 900 years ago, on the way to the holy sites of Palestine, father Daniel Sysoev made a stop on the island. He became the first Russian writer to tell of the local sights. Three chapters of his famous book the Journey are dedicated to Cyprus.[citation needed]

Organizational and cultural cohesion[edit]

In recent years, Russian language and culture are strengthening their positions on the island. For example, in 2000, a monument to the great Russian poet Alexander Pushkin was opened in a city park in Limassol. Last year, a monument to the first Russian pilgrim to Cyprus, Father Daniel, was erected on Stavrovouni Monastery. In 2010 the Russian Orthodox Church has received title to a parcel of land near the city of Limassol, Cyprus. The deed was transferred on November 19 to the benefactor's council for the construction of the Church of Russian orthodox St. Nicholas Cathedral. The church will become the main Orthodox church for the Russian-speaking community on the island.[5]

Members of the Russian diaspora in Cyprus have taken further steps toward organizational cohesion. A striking example of this was the first conference of Russian compatriots in Cyprus, which was held at the Russian Center for Science and Culture in Nicosia on December 20, 2008. At this very representative forum, which was attended by delegates from 33 Russian organizations in Cyprus and representatives from the Russian embassy, a range of issues related to “Russian Cyprus” was discussed. Prospects for the consolidation of Russian communities on the island, problems related to preserving and promoting Russian language and culture, and protecting the civil and socioeconomic rights of Russian compatriots were among the topics covered. The conference adopted a draft concept on how Russian organizations on the island should function in light of these goals.[6]

Cyprus-Russian Festival[edit]

Vestnik Kipra Publishing House in association with the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Cyprus and the Limassol Municipality organizes the Cyprus – Russian Festival since 2005.[7] Every year more than 15,000 people gather at Limassol’s Molos to celebrate the unique relationship between Russia and Cyprus. More than 500 actors, dancers, and singers from both countries take part in a non-stop 8-hour program. The Festival is customarily opened by the President of Cyprus.[8][9]

Business ties[edit]

In September 2010 Dmitry Rybolovlev became the major shareholder of the largest Cyprus bank, the Bank of Cyprus, after buying 9.7% of its shares.[10] Finance Minister Vassos Shiarly said June 19 in Nicosia that the Cypriot government is pursuing a loan from Russia to improve its bargaining position in case it has to turn to its Euro-area partners for emergency aid.[11]

"The money is leaving but not the people. Many, like me and my family, are waiting to see this out," said Slava Mishin, 42, a financial services employee who lives in Limassol. "We are here because of the climate, because of the same religion, the language -- we can use English -- because we are not far from home, and we want our kids to grow up in a safe environment and have a European education." [12]

Eurozone Bail-in[edit]

After the initial shock of the Cyprus banking crisis left Russian Cypriots feeling victimized. However, Russians say they have lived through far worse. The family benefits of island life are on show everywhere in Cyprus's second biggest city with its large Russian population, and the attitude is positive. That is despite the fact that the many Russians stand to be among the biggest losers from a levy on deposits in failing banks that is being imposed as part of an EU-IMF bailout.[13][14] Russians had about $19 billion in deposits in Cyprus mainly through companies they established in Cyprus. By the end of 2012, Russian banks had about $12 billion placed with Cypriot banks and had loaned about $40 billion to Cypriot firms, according to estimates by the international rating agency Moody’s.

"The deposits of Russian citizens who suffered will be compensated with Bank of Cyprus shares. In fact, Russian citizens will get a fairly large share of the bank’s capital and correspondingly, get some control of the Bank of Cyprus,”... the Cypriot government will do everything possible to minimize Russian citizens’ losses on their deposits with Cypriot banks."

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said in an interview with Russian business television channel RBC TV.

Business - RIA Novosti [15]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]