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North the ‘new Limassol’, awash with Russian money

trikomo 3
Mass building in Trikomo

Trikomo (Iskele) in the north is becoming the “new Limassol” with massive flows of Russian money from people looking to live a “sanctions-free life”, a report by The Guardian revealed on Wednesday, as part of a series of investigations dubbed Cyprus Confidential.

Figures cited in the piece say 39,000 Russians have settled in the north, and 58,788 Russian nationals registered as entering through checkpoints between January and September.

According to The Guardian, collaboration between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot lawyers is not uncommon, as rumours circulate of the former passing on their portfolios to Turkish Cypriot colleagues.

“You hear of Russians driving over from the south with suitcases filled with cash,” Şener Elcil, head of KTOS, the Turkish Cypriot teachers’ union told the newspaper.

“This new trend of all these people settling here is causing a lot of problems. In Iskele (Trikomo), the new Limassol, 69 per cent of pupils are either from Russia or Iran. Language difficulties have become a major complaint of teachers.”

The development is linked to sanctions implemented on Russian oligarchs following Russia’s invasion in Ukraine, and a tightening grip on Russian money across the EU – including Cyprus.

The north however, appears to present a haven to evade the tougher EU rules and according to the report, casinos are booming with Russians.

Though Limassol has acquired the moniker “Moscow of the Med” for the swathes of Russian money it has helped and laundered, the report likens Trikomo’s (Iskele) streets reflecting a similar pattern.

“Iskele’s boulevards are lined with Cyrillic shop signs, billboards promising ‘the dream life’, luxury car dealerships and cryptocurrency outlets.”

 

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