A pro-Russia rally in Limassol, Cyprus garnered both support and counter protesters on Saturday.
Members of the city’s Russian community demonstrated their support for their home country. While much of the world has rallied around Ukraine, which was brutally invaded by Russia in late February, some Russians in Cyprus expressed their support for their country.
The coastal city of Limassol is home to a large Russian population. Before the country’s passport-selling scandal in which government officials and prominent political figures were taped discussing selling passports to third country nationals, Cyprus had very lax immigration laws.
Massive pro-Russian rally organized today in Limassol, Cyprus today.
The city is known as the “Moscow of Cyprus”. Thousands of Russians have permanent residency.
Revoke it, send them home to Putin.
People who support genocide aren’t welcome in the EU. pic.twitter.com/bpq66pCKbD
— Visegrád 24 (@visegrad24) April 9, 2022
Many Russians, particularly wealthy people, moved to the country or purchased real estate there. According to recent reports, there are around 40,000 people from Russia living in the country, which has a total population of around 1.2 million people.
Pro-Russia Rally in Cyprus
Limassol, in particular, is a hub for the country’s Russian community. With a coastal, Miami-like vibe, the city is home to luxurious apartments and mega yachts owned by Russians and Cypriots alike.
While the pro-Russia rally took place, counter-protestors supporting Ukraine gathered nearby to express support for the country.
A Twitter user noted that, considering how many Russians actually live in Cyprus, the pro-Russia rally was very small and that support for Ukraine in the country is very high, as Cyprus similarly faced a brutal invasion by Turkey in the 1970s.
Living in Cyprus and knowing how many Russians are living on the island I can ensure you that this was a failed event. 20 cars? 500 people? In Ukrainian anti war events show up more than 5000 people. pic.twitter.com/0yScKbkCjQ
— Charis Tsevis (@tsevis) April 9, 2022
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which was conducted using the country’s alleged “genocide” against Russian speakers in separatist regions as pretext, mirrors Turkey’s claims in 1974 that they illegally and brutally invaded Cyprus due to alleged crimes against the country’s Turkish Cypriot minority.
These similarities have garnered attention in the wake of the war in Ukraine, and many Cypriots have stood with the people of Ukraine, many of whom are currently displaced much like many Cypriots were after the invasion.
Despite this, the large Russian presence in Limassol, which has even been jokingly dubbed “Limassolgrad” in Russian, made its support for Russian known on Saturday.
In Limassol, country’s second-most populous city, pedestrians often hear as much Russian being spoken as they do Greek. Countless stores and restaurants feature signs exclusively in Russian as well.
A pro-Russia demonstration also took place in Athens last week. Hundreds of demonstrators, many of them waving Greek and Russian flags and honking their horns, staged a motorcade in solidarity with Russia in the center of Athens last Monday.
The demonstrators drove by Syntagma Square which was at the time hosting a pro-Ukraine rally.
Some of the vehicles were spotted emblazoned with the infamous “Z” symbol which is seen as symbolizing support for Russia’s war in Ukraine. The logo was first spotted on the side of Russian tanks and military vehicles amassing on the border with Ukraine.
Ukraine’s Embassy in Greece condemned a pro-Russia rally that took place in Athens saying that holding such an event while Russian troops and mercenaries destroy Ukrainian cities and kill Ukrainian people is “plain unacceptable.”