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Zelensky calls Cyprus to revoke Russian passports

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday urged Cyprus to revoke passports issued to Russians through an investment scheme and stop private yachts docking in its marinas.

Zelensky made the plea during a special session where he addressed the Cypriot parliament via a live video link.

“I’m grateful to you for your moral stance. You reacted to the Russian invasion and banned the docking of Russian ships in your ports.

“We are grateful for the humanitarian aid,” Zelensky told parliament.

He said Cyprus has “tools to pressure” its traditionally close friend Russia.

The Ukrainian leader urged Cypriot authorities to “close the ports” to all Russian private yachts and end other “privileges”.

He called on Cypriots to revoke passports issued to wealthy Russians under the disgraced citizenship for investment scheme shut down under corruption allegations in November 2020.

“Stop Russian golden passports, dual citizenship. Except those where there is evidence they do not harm Ukraine.”

After attending the session, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades told reporters that instructions were given for four passports to be revoked of Russians on the European Union’s sanctions list.

The four are on a list of 850 names sanctioned due to their close ties with Moscow following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

During the investment scheme, Cyprus issued hundreds of passports to Russian nationals and their families.

In November 2020, the Mediterranean island dropped the passport scheme after Al Jazeera aired a documentary showing reporters posing as fixers for a Chinese businessman seeking a Cypriot passport despite having a criminal record.

A public inquiry found the government broke the law countless times, granting citizenship to over 6,700 people from 2007 to 2020 for a minimum €2 mln investment.

During the 20-minute speech, a short video was screened showing bomb-scared cities like Mariupol and the bodies of Ukrainian civilians.

Cyprus has sent over 215 tonnes of humanitarian aid to Ukraine, its largest contribution overseas.

It has also received 10,000 refugees in a country with a relatively large Russian diaspora.

There was also a protest against the war outside parliament during the session.

Cyprus’ main opposition party, communists AKEL boycotted the session after a member of the far-right Azov Battalion appeared in the teleconference Zelensky gave to the Greek parliament earlier Thursday.