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Cyprus removes more passports of banned Russians

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Cyprus will revoke the passports of four European Union sanctioned Russians over Ukraine, taking the total to eight who received citizenship under a disgraced investment scheme, Cypriot officials said Wednesday.

A cabinet decision agreed to revoke the passports of four more Russians on a sanctions list following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

“These are four new people who have been identified in the updated list of sanctions imposed by the European Commission.

“With today’s decision, the total number of persons for whom it was decided to deprive their Cypriot citizenship is eight from the 1091 names on whom EU sanctions have been imposed,” said deputy government spokesperson Niovi Parisinou in a written statement.

She said the decision to revoke Cypriot citizenship also included dependents who received passports.

The names of individuals involved were not disclosed, nor was the number of dependents.

It follows a decision earlier this month to censure another four Russians with Cyprus passports, which included 17 dependents.

The EU’s list includes high-ranking Kremlin officials, oligarchs, and other prominent people active in the energy sector, media, and the arms industry.

Cyprus gave citizenship to hundreds of wealthy Russians and their families from 2007 to 2020.

They were among nearly 7,000 people who received citizenship for a minimum €2 mln investment.

In November 2020, the Mediterranean island dropped the passport scheme amid corruption claims.

Broadcaster 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 to grant citizenship during its 13-year lifespan.

The damning report said that over half (53%) of the 6,779 passports granted were done so illegally, encouraged by a due diligence vacuum or insufficient background checks.

Cyprus’ passport scheme generated over €8 bln during its operation.