Cyprus called home by both Russians and Brits

Island offers sun, sea and a tax haven to tens of thousands

18 March, 19:47

(ANSAmed) - NICOSIA, MARCH 18 - A four-hour flight from Moscow and London, Cyprus offers a great deal more than the Russian or British capitals can: 340 days of sun every year, beautiful beaches, villas with pools and, pointedly, easy tax terms for foreigners.

It is for all these reasons - and especially its relaxed taxation regulations - that the Mediterranean island has seen an increase over the past few years in the presence of both British nationals, which number over 80,000 and are for the most part retirees, and Russian ones, some 50,000 mostly businessmen who have taken up residence in the coastal cities of Limassol, Larnaca and Paphos.

There are so many Russians living in Limassol that the city has been dubbed Limassolgrad. Two daily papers and a weekly one are printed in Russian, there are two Russian schools and a Russian radio station, the restaurants have menus in both Greek and Cyrillic and even the conspicuous prostitutes awaiting clients in the seafront bars hail from Ukraine, Moldavia and Belorussia.

However, the economy that revolves around these two communities is entirely different. The first, that of British residents - including about 3,500 soldiers stationed in the two main British bases on the island - consists almost entirely of salaries and pensions arriving monthly from London and in life savings invested in the purchase of a house in which to spend their golden years.

The economy of Russians living on the island, instead, is based on trade and investments, much of which prey to speculation on alleged money laundering.

Whatever the case may be, the money still ends up in Cypriot bank deposits and accounts for some 20 billion euros of a total of almost 69 billion. Another approximately 5.5 billion is reportedly in non-resident deposits of other nationalities.

The 10% bank levy the EU wants in exchange for 10 billion euros in aid to bail out Cyprus's economy would therefore hit the interests of Russian nationals living on Cyprus hardest. The reason behind Russian President Vladimir Putin's calling the tax ''unjust, unprofessional and dangerous'' on Monday is therefore clear. (ANSAmed).

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