TOURISM: Cyprus irks Moscow over detention of tourists looking to go north

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There is diplomatic friction between Nicosia and Moscow over Cyprus denying entry to Russian tourists who wish to travel to the Turkish occupied north of the island.

A Cypriot Foreign Ministry source told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) it would be unfair to distort the overall positive image regarding the treatment and hospitality Russian visitors enjoy in Cyprus,

The official was responding to comments by Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova about her fellow Russians being stopped at the airport.

Zakharova said the Russian embassy in Cyprus would request that Cypriot authorities “provide official information on the non-admission and the detention of Russian nationals at airports”.

She made the comments when asked about the “violation of the rights” of a Russian woman called I. Shirobokova who was denied entry into Cyprus after stating the purpose of her visit was to travel to the Turkish-held north of the island.

"We deem it absolutely inadmissible, the rude and unceremonious treatment of law-abiding Russian citizens arriving for the purposes of tourism or for any other legal reason in the territory of Cyprus with all the duly executed documents," Zakharova said.

She said the Russian embassy in Cyprus has registered a growing number of complaints by Russians in the past few months over the tighter requirements for documents that have to be submitted at Cypriot checkpoints.

"We urged the leadership of the Republic of Cyprus to officially publish migration requirements on the websites of its consular missions in Russia," the diplomat said.

The Cyprus Foreign Ministry source told CNA: “We are looking into this particular incidence with proper consideration.”

This is a sensitive issue as the arrival of Russian visitors to Cyprus up until October exceeded 750,000. Russia is the island’s second d largest tourist market behind the UK.

“It would be unfair to let this (incident) distort the overall absolutely positive image regarding the treatment and hospitality which Russian visitors enjoy from the moment they arrive in Cyprus until the moment they leave the island,” the source said.

Cypriot authorities have stepped up their efforts in recent months in denying people entry into Cyprus who want to travel to the north.