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Cyprus describes Russia ban on officials as ‘unpleasant development’ (Updated)

ÓõíÝíôåõîç óôï ÊÕÐÅ – Êõâåñíçôéêüò Åêðñüóùðïò
File photo: Government spokesperson Konstantinos Letymbiotis.

Cyprus on Friday described as “an unpleasant development” the decision by Russia barring entry into its territory to three Cypriot officials connected with the deportation from the island of a Russian national last October and for “unacceptable actions” against a Russian embassy staffer.

Government spokesman Konstantinos Letymbiotis in a brief written statement said the three officials had “performed their duty as they should” and were only obeying instructions.

“These are three officials who had nothing to do with the substance of the case, but with the handling of the implementation of the decisions of the competent authorities,” he added.

“On behalf of the Republic of Cyprus, all the necessary measures had been taken to protect the national security of our state, but also to implement the decisions and protect the interests of the Republic. We are in contact through diplomatic channels, let’s let diplomacy work.”

A Russian diplomatic source, cited by Cybc’s Moscow correspondent, Thanasis Avgerinos, estimated that the Russian reaction, which has come late in relation to similar cases concerning other EU member states, said Russia was willing to defuse the situation and not escalate tensions when it came to Cyprus-Russia relations.

The Russian Foreign Ministry on January 18 notified the ambassador of Cyprus in Moscow of the retaliatory measures in connection with what it deemed unacceptable actions by the Cypriot authorities in October 2023 in relation to the correspondent of Rossiyskaya Gazeta A. G. Gasyuk, accredited in Nicosia, and an employee of the Russian embassy, D. V. Doinikov,” read the press release.

It said that the officials of the Republic of Cyprus, “directly involved in the provocation” were banned from entering Russia.

Alexander Gasyuk, referred to in the press release, was a Russian journalist living in Cyprus at the time.

Gasyuk, who worked for the state-run newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta, was detained in early October 2023 and subsequently deported from Cyprus. He was quoted as telling the TASS news agency that Cypriot police manhandled him and that he was told his residence permit was being revoked because he was allegedly a security threat.

Cypriot authorities denied having mistreated Gasyuk.

Citing diplomatic sources, CyBC on Thursday night said the Russian ban appeared to concern three officials of the interior ministry.

It’s understood that Gasyuk’s family also left the island shortly after his deportation. Based on the journalist’s last dispatches while working here, he covered an Independence Day parade in Nicosia on October 1, which focused on Russian-made tanks being on display, celebrations by some Russians living in Cyprus of the annexation of territories in Ukraine and an interview with Russia’s ambassador to the island.

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