The interior ministry has approved an application for the establishment of a political party by Russians who have Cypriot citizenship. The party is called I The Citizen and does not mention Russia anywhere in its name, as press reports had initially suggested. It is, however, the brainchild of Russians who have been living and working in Cyprus for many years and who have Cypriot citizenship.
The leader of the party, Alexei Voloboev, who moved to Cyprus 12 years ago, said in an interview with Phileleftheros that Cyprus was lagging behind many advanced countries in the development of new technologies, in e-government and in facilitating foreign investment. Being a businessman, he has experienced the negative effects of Cyprus’ bureaucracy, which is holding the country back.
“The idea for the creation of a new party was sparked by the fact that we saw how much more advanced other modern states were in relation to Cyprus,” Voloboev said.
Nobody can disagree with what he said, but it is difficult to understand why he thinks a fringe party made up primarily of Russians will be able to effect the change that the existing parties, more familiar with the system, have failed to achieve. Would this objective, which many people support, not have been easier to achieve by these individuals joining one of the existing parties? Perhaps the Cypriot citizens of Russian origin felt they were not welcome in our parties and would not have a voice if they joined. This is a reasonable assumption, given the tribal nature of our political parties, which have still not understood that there are now a significant number of Russians with the right to vote.
The spokesman for I The Citizen is Greek, so he will have no difficulty putting across the party’s positions, as he illustrated on a radio show yesterday morning. Whether the party’s leader will be able to speak publicly in Greek is a more important question. The language factor is very important, considering the overwhelming majority of the voters are Greek speakers and are unlikely to warm to candidates speaking in Russian or English.
The new party, according to Voloboev, already has one thousand members, which is a good starting point although it is difficult to see how this number will grow and how the party will ever be able to command the level of support to win it a parliamentary seat. The creation of the party, however, is an interesting political experiment and we will all be waiting to see what course it will eventually take.