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Cabinet strips another four Russians of Cypriot citizenship (Updated)

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The cabinet proceeded on Wednesday to revoke a further four Cypriot passports from Russians identified within the latest round of EU sanctions against Moscow

The decision also covers the four unnamed persons’ dependents, such as their children, who are likely to have also received Cypriot passports.

The latest revocation of passports builds on a previous round of passports being stripped earlier this month, which again saw four sanctioned individuals lose their Cyprus passports. That also included their dependents, which meant that 21 persons in total lost their Cyprus passports as of April 7.

It has not yet been made publicly available how many dependents may have had Cyprus passports linked to the latest four individuals.

Of the 1,091 persons sanctioned by the EU over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, eight have had their Cypriot passports scrapped.

Late last month, Brussels ordered all member states to examine all citizenships and residency permits given to Russian or Belarusian nationals “significantly supporting the war in Ukraine”.

Cyprus gave citizenship to 2,886 Russian nationals, among them investors and their families, over a period from 2007 to August 2020.

A probe into Cyprus’ now defunct citizenship by investment scheme found that 53 per cent of the 6,779 citizenships – provided for a minimum €2m investment – were given unlawfully and said politicians and institutions had political responsibilities while certain applicants and service providers may be held criminally culpable. The probe covered the period between 2007, when the scheme was introduced, and August 2020.

From the 6,779 naturalisations 3,609 individuals, or 53 per cent, concerned family members and company executives, which were naturalised unlawfully, the investigating committee found.

According to the report, of the 47 per cent of applications that were lawful, 34 per cent did not satisfy all the criteria.

Cyprus terminated its citizenship by investment scheme in November 2020, some three months after an undercover expose by Al Jazeera showing high-profile individuals including the then House president appearing to be willing to smooth the way to a passport for a fictious businessman with a criminal record. The island was also censured by Brussels several times over its citizenship by investment scheme.

Following the axing of the citizenship programme, a new scheme for permanent residency was introduced. This had already existed but was revised and expanded.

“Some Russian or Belarusian nationals who are subject to sanctions or are significantly supporting the war in Ukraine might have acquired EU citizenship or privileged access to the EU, including to travel freely in the Schengen area, under these schemes,” the European Commission warned last month.

 

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