Cyprus to revoke passports of EU-sanctioned Russians

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Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades attends a roundtable summit session on the final day of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing on April 27, 2019. Aleksey Nikolskyi / Sputnik / AFP

Cyprus will revoke the citizenships of four more Russians sanctioned by the European Union over the war in Ukraine, Cypriot officials said Wednesday.

A cabinet decision brings to eight the total number of Russians who have had to give up passports granted under a disgraced investment scheme on the EU-member island.

“These are four new people who have been identified in the updated list of sanctions imposed by the European Commission,” Niovi Parisinou, a government spokesperson, said in a statement.

“With today’s decision, the total number of persons for whom it was decided to deprive their Cypriot citizenship is eight, out of the 1,091 names on whom EU sanctions have been imposed.”

She said the decision also included dependents of the sanctioned individuals who received passports.

The names of the individuals involved were not disclosed, nor was the number of dependents.

It follows a decision earlier this month to denaturalise another four Russians and their 17 dependents.

The EU’s list includes high-ranking Kremlin officials, oligarchs and other prominent Russians active in the energy, media and arms industries.

Cyprus granted citizenship to hundreds of wealthy Russians and their families from 2007 to 2020.

They were among nearly 7,000 people who received citizenship for a minimum €2 million (about $2.17 million) investment in the country.

In November 2020, the Mediterranean island dropped the passport scheme amid corruption claims.

Broadcaster Al Jazeera aired a documentary showing reporters posing as fixers for a Chinese businessman seeking a Cypriot passport despite having a criminal record.

A public inquiry found that 53 percent of the 6,779 passports granted were given illegally, amid an absence of due diligence measures or insufficient background checks.

The passport scheme generated over €8 billion throughout its 13-year lifespan. (AFP)

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