N Cyprus-bound Rus­sian woman ‘bul­lied’ at Lar­naca air­port, de­ported from South

Cyprus Today - - FRONT PAGE - By ANNE CANALP

RUS­SIANS trav­el­ling to North Cyprus have been told they must fly via Turkey, af­ter a North Cyprus-bound Rus­sian so­ci­ol­o­gist and ge­og­ra­pher claims she was “bul­lied” while be­ing de­tained and then de­ported from Lar­naca air­port.

The ad­vice on “re­quire­ments to en­ter the Repub­lic of Cyprus” was pub­lished on the web­site of the is­land’s Rus­sian em­bassy along­side emer­gency

con­sular phone num­bers.

Irina Shi­robokova spoke out about her Oc­to­ber 17 or­deal, when she was held along­side a six-month­spreg­nant woman, moth­ers and chil­dren de­tained for five days un­til their air­line could pro­vide flights out.

“I was un­rea­son­ably de­tained . . . im­pris­oned, black­mailed and bul­lied. I want . . . to let you know what can hap­pen . . . in one of the de­vel­oped and tourist coun­tries of the Euro­pean Union,” she said on so­cial me­dia.

Ms Shi­robokova said she had en­coun­tered no prob­lems vis­it­ing North Cyprus via Lar­naca a month ear­lier with her par­ents and had also checked con­sular reg­u­la­tions on­line.

She was de­nied en­try on ar­rival from St Peters­burg, and taken to a room for ques­tion­ing de­spite of­fer­ing to book and stay in the South, “but they would not lis­ten . . . say­ing if I dis­agree they can do any­thing to me and will make sure I will have prob­lems trav­el­ling in the EU in the fu­ture”.

She said she in­ter­viewed other de­tained women in the air­port de­ten­tion area be­fore be­ing forced to sign a doc­u­ment un­der­tak­ing to pay back the un­spec­i­fied cost of her de­por­ta­tion in or­der to be re­leased.

“We asked for a meal for the child which they did not pro­vide and rel­a­tives were not al­lowed to bring food to those im­pris­oned. You could bang on the door for two hours and no-one came.

“There were four sheets for eight beds. A mother con­tacted me on so­cial me­dia later to say that her son was sum­mar­ily de­ported on Oc­to­ber 22, but had pre­vi­ously vis­ited with no prob­lems.

“One woman in­di­cated she would com­mit sui­cide at the air­port af­ter she was sent back to Moscow de­spite hav­ing a busi­ness flight to Athens and 30 girls from Kiev, al­most all blonde, were de­tained as ‘im­moral’.”

The Rus­sian em­bassy no­tice ad­vised that “it is strictly for­bid­den to en­ter the South in or­der to re­side in the ‘oc­cu­pied ter­ri­to­ries’ in the north”, and any­one orally declar­ing in­tent to cross the bor­der or pre­sent­ing North Cyprus pa­per­work at pass­port con­trol would be de­nied en­try.

Res­i­dence in the South had to be be con­firmed for the en­tire stay by travel vouch­ers, a paid ho­tel reser­va­tion or con­fir­ma­tion of pay­ment, in ad­di­tion to a valid visa, re­turn ticket and suf­fi­cient funds.

En­try to the South would also be de­nied for “vis­it­ing the ‘oc­cu­pied part’ of Cyprus via check­points not con­trolled by the of­fi­cial Cypriot au­thor­i­ties”.

De­spite an of­fi­cial Rus­sian For­eign Min­istry note to Leonidas Markides, Cyprus Am­bas­sador to Moscow, for clear guid­ance, the site still di­rects Rus­sians to a Cyprus Tourism Or­gan­i­sa­tion web­site which urges them to use “recog­nised ports of en­try”, and adds: “Presently, it is pos­si­ble for for­eign tourists who visit the gov­ern­ment-con­trolled area of the Repub­lic of Cyprus, to cross to the oc­cu­pied ar­eas.

“Stay­ing in Greek Cypriot owned ho­tels in the oc­cu­pied ar­eas . . . would put you at great risk of pos­si­ble le­gal ac­tion on the part of the own­ers. Any en­try into the ter­ri­tory of the Repub­lic of Cyprus via any other port or air­port in the Turk­ishoc­cu­pied ar­eas of Cyprus is il­le­gal, and trav­ellers do­ing so may face le­gal con­se­quences.”

Ms Shi­robokova added: “I un­der­stand the sen­si­tiv­ity of the sit­u­a­tion . . . of North Cyprus but in Moscow Rus­sian ser­vices con­firmed my treat­ment in Cyprus was il­le­gal and there is no clear guid­ance on the law.”

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