21 Russians to lose Cyprus passports

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Some 21 Russians holding a ‘golden passport’ will be stripped of their Cypriot nationality due to sanctions imposed by the European Union on Russia for invading Ukraine.

The government has decided to revoke the passports of 21 Russian nationals awarded citizenship through the island’s now-defunct Citizenship for Investment scheme.

The decision involves four Russian investors, their wives and children. According to reports, the Russians active in Cyprus were included in the EU sanctions list due to links to the Kremlin.

According to Phileleftheros daily, the government has decided to revoke the passports of Mikhail Gutseriev, Alexander Ponomarenko, Vadim Moskovic, and Alexei Kuzmichev and their 17 family members.

After carrying out a check, the authorities found the names of the four business people to be on the sanctions list issued by the European Commission.

The Commission’s list includes 1,100 people, high-ranking Kremlin officials, oligarchs, and other prominent business people active in key economic sectors, such as energy, the media, and the arms industry.

Those on the sanctions list are subject to a travel ban, under which they are not allowed to enter EU territory.

Among the four to have their passport revoked is Alexei Kuzmichev, who, according to Forbes, is one of the wealthiest people in the world, worth around €8.8 bln.

Kuzmichev is believed to be a close friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

He was given a Cypriot passport in February 2019. In addition, his wife and three children were also given Cypriot passports.

Vadim Moskovic, one of the largest landowners in Russia and with a strong business interest in Cyprus, received his Cypriot passport in February 2017.

His wife and three children were also given citizenship. Moskovic owns Granada Capital Cy and Ros Agro Plc in Cyprus.

He is the chair of the Rusagro Group with business interests in agriculture and real estate development.

In 2004, Moshkovic founded the Rusagro Group, a major producer of pork and sugar.

As a result, Moskovic has been sanctioned over his involvement in economic activities that provide a significant source of revenue for the Russian government.

Alexander Ponomarenko is the chair of Sheremetyevo International Airport. He acquired Cypriot citizenship in May 2016. In addition, all three of his children also acquired Cypriot citizenship.

He is believed to have ties to Putin and the breakaway “Republic of Crimea” leader, Sergey Aksyonov.

Mikhail Gutseriev is a prominent Russian businessman with interests in Belarus energy, potash and hospitality.

He was granted Cyprus citizenship in October 2013; later, his life partner and five children acquired Cypriot nationality. He is an old friend of the President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko.