A CITY FULL OF FEELINGS A CITY FULL OF FEELINGS







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evel limassol

Natalia Kardash: 'The Russians who have been living here for a long time, will never leave'

Natalia Kardash is one of the most active women of the Russian community in Limassol. Director and shareholder of the Vestnik Kipra Communications Group, Natalia is on the forefront of the life of the city's and the Cyprus Russian community in general for years. This is because, as she says, in Limassol she felt like home, since the first time she set foot in Cyprus.

So, she wants her home to be better, more energetic and beautiful day by day. She recognizes that Limassol is a city open and receptive and knows that the presence of herself and the Russian community in general, has as much future, as much as it has a past, and even more. And this past is indeed long...

When did the Russians begin to arrive in Cyprus, first?
The first known Russian, Vasili Barsky, visited Cyprus in the 18th century, making the first detailed description of the island in the Russian language. Of course, after the Revolution the last officers of the Russian Empire, who fled from Russia with their families from the Crimea, found refuge in Cyprus. Some are still buried in Limassol.

Later on, when Cyprus became independent, the Soviet Union provided an opportunity for young Cypriots to study for free in the USSR. Thus way, many of these students returned to Cyprus with Russian wives and husbands. Also, since 1990 the Russian businessmen have chosen Cyprus to found companies, starting the international trade between Russia and the rest of the world. Some of them bought houses and offices in Cyprus. This was a new beginning in the business relations between Russia and Cyprus.

The sea and the sun are not all the Russians want, when they are on their vacation. They want to go out to restaurants, shops, walks by the sea.

How many Russians live in Cyprus today and how many of them are in Limassol?
There is no official number, because the registration at the Embassy is not mandatory. Many have Cypriot passports or a passport from other European countries. Personally I would say the permanent residents are around 30 – 40 thousands and 5 – 6 thousands are those who visit Cyprus, staying 4 - 6 months a year. Over 2/3 of the Russian speaking population in Cyprus lives in Limassol. Almost 800 thousands of Russian tourists visit Cyprus during the year.

How did Limassol become the most popular destination for Russians?
The sea and the sun are not all the Russians want, when they are on their vacation. They want to go out to restaurants, shops, walks by the sea. Limassol offers them all this plus good hotels of 4 and 5 stars. This city is located between 2 airports: 1 hour way from Larnaca and Paphos. This is advantageous for tourists. In addition, it is 1 hour drive to Troodos with its monasteries and its natural treasures and 1 hour for Nicosia. Russian tourists are trying to explore Cyprus and visit all the cities at least 1 time out of curiosity.

As for residents, the reasons are different. Limassol offers a very special lifestyle. For entrepreneurs, what is important is the fact that Limassol is the financial and business capital of Cyprus. We have very good law firms here, audit firms, accountants who speak English and Russian.

Entrepreneurs bring their families here. How does a Russian family think: the city is big enough to have everything they need (parks, zoos, museums, many Russian and international events) and it offers a variety of schools (5-6 international schools that teach in English and 3 Russian schools which teach according to the Russian school curriculum). Also, there are at least 50 Russian-speaking doctors in Limassol and it is a great advantage. Also, you can find Russian-speaking staff everywhere: in hotels, restaurants, supermarkets, shops, hairdressers, pharmacies. This is especially important for tourists (the majority does not speak English) but also it facilitates the lives of the 'local' Russians.

How different is life in Cyprus for the Russians?
I think Russians appreciate the lifestyle that Cyprus offers. Life in Russia is much more demanding. In addition to that, the weather is not so good, the distance between the house and the office is great and you may spend a lot of time on public transport or your car. On the other hand, the major Russian cities offer many choices for theaters, exhibitions, museums, cultural events. Therefore, I personally travel once a month with my children in a major city in Europe or Russia.

The Cyprus — Russian Festival is the largest Russian event in Europe. This event is truly international, since it attracts 12-14 thousands visitors from any country.

How long do you live in Limassol? Are there many Russians who have been living for over 2 decades here?
I came to Cyprus in the September of 1999. My first trip to the island was in Limassol and I immediately realized that this is "my city." I grew up in the Black Sea and my town was just like Limassol, so, from the first moment it felt like home. I know personally some 200 families living here over 15 or 20 years. My friends appreciate Cyprus, love the island and they are very happy here. I do not believe that people who live here for many years will ever leave Cyprus.

Are there events for the Russians, but also people from other nationalities in the city?
The Cyprus — Russian Festival is the largest Russian event in Europe. This event is truly international, since it attracts 12-14 thousands visitors from any country. The Cypriot-Russian festival takes place at the Limassol Municipal Garden (this year the event will take place on June 10th and 11th). Over 1500 dancers, singers, athletes participate during the Festival. So in 1-2 years we will have to find a new venue for that.

Besides the festival there are also other events for the Russian-speaking community: concerts, lectures, seminars and even movies in Russian language, screening each month in the theaters. Russians are actively participating in the carnival, the Beauty Expo and Forum, the Limassol Marathon, the celebration of Easter, at Kataklysmos, the Wine Festival, the New Year's party. Every year 30 events are organized by the group Vestnik Kipra, and other 30 - 40 by various organizers. In all of these anyone who wants to can participate.

What is the purpose of these events?
Every event is different. We have for example a VIP fashion show, the "Front Row" on April 30th. This aims to create a specific mood and atmosphere, with a special "dress code" – gowns and suits. I think that Limassol needs more luxurious events.

Also we organize the International Investment Conference, in order to offer opportunities for networking to the entrepreneurs of different nationalities in Limassol. We organize a reception for 400 guests. The most important in the financial and the investment sector is communication and trust. During the conference we have different topics and guests discussing on the cooperation between Cyprus and India, for business opportunities in the Middle East and the role of Cyprus as a bridge between Europe and the Arab countries.

My friends appreciate Cyprus, love the island and they are very happy here. I do not believe that people who live here for many years will ever leave Cyprus.

How can the Russian-speaking community benefit other nationalities?
Limassol is very cosmopolitan and I like it. I is not important what nationality are you, because in Cyprus we speak quite good English and we do not have a problem in our communication. I think that is the secret of continuous growth: a mixture of cultures, experiences, different characteristics and interests that help Limassol remains vivid, energetic and full of life. The Russian-speaking community plays an important role in this: the Russians earn their money abroad, but they spend them in Cyprus. If all the entrepreneurs in Limassol start thinking about their common interests and join forces, the city will continue to prosper.


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