Select country:
Select activity:
Select date:

Cyprus

Cyprus

  • Cypriot government considers Russia an ally supporting the integrity of the country, even though there are doubts about Russian actual interests amongst some journalists.
  • Cypriot media have been speculating about hypothetical hidden motives of Russia to meddle into internal affairs of Cyprus with an agenda which is different than publicly claimed.
  • Political representation of Cyprus has not acknowledged these speculations in any way.

Relations with the Russian Federation


Kremlin friendly. Does not feel threatened and is advocating for better relations with Russia, often regardless what atrocities Moscow is responsible for. Often supports Kremlin’s foreign policy objectives, such as stopping further sanctions under arguments related to appeasement or alleged business ties.[1]

Cyprus belongs to the group of countries which do not perceive any threat coming from Russia and keep a close relationship with the regime. Russia has supported integrity of the island since the Soviet era, which makes Moscow a key foreign partner of Nicosia. Cyprus is also Russia's primary offshore banking haven, home to 40.000 Russians and a popular destination for Russian tourists. The government opposed sanctions against Russia, especially because of the economic ties, although the actual impact of them on the economy has been limited. However, there is a continuing Russian intelligence's activity in the country and the Cypriot side fears that Moscow is using social and mass media and its ties to fringe nationalist parties and the Greek Orthodox Church to undermine the settlement talks.[2] In 2011, Russia granted a €2.5bn ($3.5bn) emergency loan[3] which the Cypriot government is still repaying – a potential factor for Cypriot silence on the disinformation threat.

Political acknowledgement of the threat


There has been no official indication of acknowledgement of Russian influence operations and disinformation campaigns in any policy document. However, there have been voices expressing concerns about Russian meddling into the peace settlement between the parts of the island. Still, the bilateral relations with Russia stay on a high level, even regardless of the events in Ukraine. Either no official activities exist or they are not publicly admitted for domestic political reasons. Cyprus consistently opposed EU sanctions on Russia, with foreign minister Ioannis Kasoulides, declaring in an interview to Die Welt that Russia and Cyprus were so tightly economically intertwined that EU sanctions “will destroy”[4] Cyprus’ economy.

Cyprus is not a NATO Member State and the cooperation between NATO and EU is not its high priority, quite the opposite, it often tries to decrease it. No shift has been noticeable even in the recent years. Cypriot officials are one of the most rigid supporters of the idea of Russia being the real and honest ally of Cyprus and would not take part in any international activities targeted against it unless it would be absolutely unavoidable.

Government activities against Russian influence & disinformation


Several media outlets in Cyprus managed to breach a long-time taboo and started speculating recently about their concerns that Russia might actually want to block the settlement on the island, opposite to what it officially claims. These speculations arised after some suspicious activities of the Ambassador of Moscow in Cyprus, Mr. Osadchiy.[5] But these worries have not been reflected by the majority of the authorities. No measure to counter subversive influence have been taken. After Russian oligarchs holding Cypriot citizenship founded a party, “I the Citizen,” the government and major political parties did not respond.[6] Cyprus also appears willing to help Russia evade EU sanctions. 17 MEPs signed a letter for President Anastasiades claiming Cyprus was “neglecting its duties under the European directives to combat money laundering.”[7] Furthermore, the OCCRP project found that relating to the Paradise Papers cases, Cypriot banks received $871, 290,158[8] in Russian laundered funds between 2011 and 2014. Russian influence thus continues unimpeded.

The approach of intelligence agencies to Russian interference


There are no known intelligence activities in Cyprus attempting to counter Russian influence operation, especially because such a target has not been set in any strategic document and Russian channels are not perceived as a threat to the country. There are also no known initiatives concerning cyber-security.

Activities of the non-governmental sector


There are no relevant non-governmental activities or organizations focusing on disinformation campaigns or influence operations. There are several projects in place aiming at enhancing media literacy and internet security.[9] CyberEthics Cyprus Safer Internet Center co-founded by the European Union established a Safer Internet Programme. The organization participates on international projects and regularly reports illegal content on the Internet. It also tries to engage with the government and civil society and contributes to eradication of cybercrime.

The topic of cybercrime has also been picked up by the Cyprus Cyber Crime Centre on Excellence for Training, Research and Education (3CE), which provides specialised training for people from the public and private sectors.



[1] “How do European democracies react to Russian aggression”. European Values. 22 April 2017. Available at: http://www.europeanvalues.net/russia/ 
[2] „Cyprus fears Russia could wreck unification.“ Politico. 17 February 2017. Available at:  http://www.politico.eu/article/cyprus-fears-russia-could-wreck-reunification/ 
[3] “A New Party for Cyprus’s Russian Exiles and Expats,” The Economist, November 14, 2017, https://www.economist.com/news/europe/21731331-some-fear-undue-russian-influence-new-party-cypruss-russian-exiles-and-expats
[4] “Cyprus,” European Values Think-Tank, accessed November 26, 2017, http://www.europeanvalues.net/cyprus/
[5]“Cyprus Fears Russian Meddling in Its Settlement Talks.” The New York Times. 5 February 2017. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/05/world/europe/cyprus-fears-russian-meddling-in-its-settlement-talks.html?_r=0 
[6] “A New Party for Cyprus’s Russian Exiles and Expats,” The Economist, November 14, 2017, https://www.economist.com/news/europe/21731331-some-fear-undue-russian-influence-new-party-cypruss-russian-exiles-and-expats
[7] “MEPs Demand Cyprus Open up over Russia Money Laundering,” accessed November 26, 2017, https://euobserver.com/justice/139690.
[8] OCCRP, “The Russian Laundromat Exposed,” OCCRP, accessed November 26, 2017, https://www.occrp.org/en/laundromat/the-russian-laundromat-exposed/
[9] “Mapping of media lietaracy practices and actions in EU-28”. European Audiovisual Observatory. 2016. Available at: http://www.obs.coe.int/documents/205595/8587740/Media+literacy+mapping+report+-+EN+-+FINAL.pdf/c1b5cc13-b81e-4814-b7e3-cc64dd4de36c 

 

Kremlin Watch Briefing

Please note that the briefing will be sent to you via an email marketing tool Mailerlite and the personal information you enter will be used exclusively for this purpose.

These websites use cookies to provide services, customize ads, and analyze traffic. Information about how to use this website is shared with Google. By using this website, you consent to the use of cookies.