President Nikos Christodoulides on Sunday denied commenting on the matter of the Russian journalist sent back to Moscow, following his detainment in Nicosia a few days ago.

The journalist’s detention on Thursday in Nicosia sparked a rare crisis in relations between Russia and Cyprus, with the Cypriot ambassador summoned to the foreign ministry in Moscow for an explanation.

Russian news outlets have identified the journalist as Alexander Gasyuk, who worked in Cyprus for state-run newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta. He was quoted as telling Tass that he was manhandled by Cypriot police and that he was told his residence permit was being revoked because he was allegedly a security threat.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said any suggestion of inappropriate activities by the journalist were “absolutely far-fetched”.

Commenting on Sunday, the president said: “Allow me, for matter that have to do with public safety, to not make any public comments.”

Remarking on a journalist comment that Cyprus-Russia relations have been affected, the president said he would not make any statements.

“Relations with the Russian Federation are determined within the context of our status as a member state of the EU. There is an illegal Russian invasion of Ukraine, as it was in Cyprus in 1974 and continues to be [occupied], and quite rightly the Republic of Cyprus is on the right side of History,” he said.

He made no comment on criticism from Moscow on the matter.

It was unclear how long Gasyuk worked in Cyprus.

Based on his most recent dispatches, he covered an independence day parade in Nicosia on Oct 1 which focused on Russian-made tanks being on display, celebrations by a number of Russians living in Cyprus of annexation of territories in Ukraine and an interview with Russia’s ambassador to the island.

Cyprus says the Russian journalist resisted arrest but dismissed Russian allegations of violent behaviour by the authorities.

Foreign ministry spokesperson, Theodoros Gotsis, confirmed that the government was communicating with the Russian Federation through diplomatic channels with the goal of resolving the issue in the best possible way.

On Friday, Cyprus ambassador to Moscow Kypros Giorgallis was summoned to the Russian foreign ministry, reportedly spending about 20 minutes there before leaving without making any statements to Russian journalists.

“We consider the references to the inappropriate activities of the Rossiyskaya Gazeta correspondent and the violation of the administrative regime of his stay in Cyprus as absolutely far-fetched,” the Russian ministry said.

According to a source, during the arrest “physical violence was used,” and the Russian journalist “injured his hand and needed to be hospitalised”.

The incident reportedly took place around 11.45 on Thursday while the journalist was in his car, which was parked next to the house where he lives with his family.