Russian oligarchs create political party in Cyprus

One Cypriot MEP insisted that democracy only stands to gain from the creation of the new party. [Dan Nevill/Flickr]

Russian oligarchs who have acquired Cypriot citizenship have created a new political party in Cyprus, which supports further UN talks on the future of the divided island and aims to take part in the next European elections in 2019.

When the news of the party, called “Me the citizen”, broke, many Cypriots wondered whether it would focus on Russian interests. But party spokesman Dimitris Michalakakos, speaking to Cyprus’ SigmaLive, insisted it was a “purely Cypriot party”.

But he added that the initiative for its creation originally came from some Cypriots of Russian nationality.

“It was originally reported that it is a party of the Russians, but today, the Cypriots who have embraced the initiative are many more,” he insisted.

The leader of the party is Alexey Voloboev, a businessman from Lemesos who had previously funded a Russian radio station in Cyprus.

Greek media reported that the Russian oligarchs behind the initiative had taken advantage of the legislation allowing Cypriot citizenship to be acquired, based on the amount of funds deposited in local banks (€2.5 million) and a residence purchase worth €500,000.

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There are a considerable number of Russian oligarchs who use the Mediterranean island as the basis for their business operations.

A pro-EU approach

According to press reports in Cyprus, the new party will have a centrist approach, focusing on the Europeanisation and modernisation of the island.

As far as the Cyprus issue in concern, a thorny topic for the island, the new party will back the continuation of talks under the auspices of the United Nations and will push for a “Bi-zonal Bi-communal Federation” solution, as the Greek Cypriot side supports.

On the economy, the centrist party will be in favour of a more social model and will oppose extreme neoliberal policies.

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Democratic benefits

Takis Hadjigeorgiou, a Cypriot MEP from GUE-NGL, told EURACTIV that every democratic gathering of people only deepens democracy.

“The basic objectives of pluralism, freedom and creative dialogue should be attained. There is another condition. Everything must be done in the service of Cypriot citizens. With this in mind, I sincerely welcome the creation of the ‘Me the Citizen’,” Hadjigeorgiou revealed.

The leftist MEP said the Cypriot party system was going through a crisis and having a new party could be greeted with scepticism.

“However, I think there is no other way of having a democratic intervention…This is not something that damages democracy. Perhaps, on the contrary, democracy has benefited,” the Cypriot MEP concluded.

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