Jeff closes gap with piece on Russian influence in Cyprus
On June 21st 2012, The Slog posted this piece on the growing Russian influence in Cyprus….and how it represents a real alternative to EU debt strictures.
Today – October 22nd 2012 – Jeff Randall in the Telegraph writes:
‘Then there is Russia, with which Cyprus shares an orthodox church. While Paphos’s feline vagrants were being rounded up for extermination, big bears moved in to fill their places on the sunbeds. The newcomers are easy to spot, thanks largely to a sartorial style originated by Englebert Humperdinck’s costumier and watches the size of grapefruits.
The number of Russians visiting Cyprus has tripled in three years to more than 400,000 and many do not intend to go back. The official estimate of Russian residents here is about 50,000 but double that seems nearer the mark. Aside from the appeal of an agreeable climate and a low tax rate, the Russians’ penchant for cash transactions prompts widespread suspicion that the island is becoming a giant laundromat for red-hot rubles. Cypriot authorities deny this.
The Russians’ location of choice is Limassol, a 45-minute drive from Paphos, where there is a Russian-language newspaper, a Russian-language radio station, two Russian-language schools and enough prostitutes from former USSR states to keep the Red Army tied down, as it were, until Christmas.’
Last June, The Slog opined:
‘Today I bring you news of other Big Players apart from the US trying to muscle in. Caviar and pelmeni line the supermarket shelves in the seaside Cypriot city of Limassol – so pervasively Russian these days, it’s been dubbed “Limassolgrad” by the locals. As a backlash against austerity spreads across Europe, Cypriot officials say they are determined to avoid the kind of severe budget cuts that sank the Greek economy, and guess what? Smiling Uncle Vlad in the Kremlin has been willing to lend bigtime to help them evade capture by the Terrible Troika of Tosh.
The Russian government last year gave Cyprus a three-year loan of 2.5 billion euros at a below-market rate of 4.5 percent to help it service its debt. Cyprus now needs another 1.8 billion euros by the end of this month to buttress its ailing banking sector. Brussels has said this will be forthcoming, but there is now a question-mark over whether the Cypriots want it. The key, unique element in this situation is that President Demetris Christofias is a communist, and a keen ally of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.’
Newscorp’s Mr Randall concludes:
‘Step forward, Mr Putin. The Russians are offering cheap loans, prompting Cyprus’s Moscow-educated leader Demetris Christofias to claim this is “support without anything in exchange”. He is either deluded or dissembling. Not even Putin’s closest friends would pretend he is in the free-lunch business.’
In June I rounded off with this:
‘Moscow is the favoured option even for non-communist cypriots, because it would come with fewer conditions than a European Union bailout – and help ensure that Cyprus’s 10% corporate tax rate carries on attracting the estimated 50,000 Russian-speakers in Cyprus….Somebody needs to get a handle on this and soon – otherwise we’ll be dealing with a military mess that could make the demise of the eurozone look like a Sunday afternoon stroll.’
It looks like Jeff has….eventually.