Ukraine’s Zelenskiy urges Cyprus to end passport scheme for Russians

NICOSIA (Reuters) -Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy urged Cyprus on Thursday to close its ports to all Russian ships, and end a passport scheme that gives Russians dual citizenship on the island.

In an address to Cyprus’s parliament via a video link, Zelenskiy showed a video of atrocities he said were committed by invading Russian forces. Reuters could not verify the authenticity of the images.

Lawmakers, who were joined by President Nicos Anastasiades, fell silent as the images were broadcast. Members of Cyprus’s communist party AKEL were absent.

“Please, close all Cyprus ports to all Russian ships. This must be a decision taken in conjunction with the European Union,” Zelenskiy said via an interpreter.

Russia has denied targeting civilians in what it calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine.

Zelenskiy said measures could also include ending the “golden passport” dual-citizenship scheme.

Cyprus ended a citizenship for investment programme in late 2020 under which it had given citizenship to 2,886 Russian nationals.

They were among almost 7,000 given citizenship for investing a minimum of 2 million euros ($2.2 million) in the country since 2007.

Earlier on Thursday, Cypriot government sources told Reuters the island would revoke citizenship from four people, among more than 800 subject to sanctions by the EU and considered to have close ties to Russia’s government.

($1 = 0.9183 euros)

(Reporting By Michele Kambas; Editing by Andrew Heavens and John Stonestreet$)