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