Moscow has reacted angrily to the levy on bank accounts in Cyprus.
President Vladimir Putin says it is “unfair and sets a dangerous precedent,” and the country’s Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev, also spoke out against it:
“We should say this directly,” he said. “This simply looks like the confiscation of other people’s money. I do not know who the author of this idea is, but this is what it looks like. We are unfortunately acquainted with such practices from Soviet times.”
Russian citizens account for the majority of the billions of euros deposited and Russian banks are also heavily exposed to the island as a offshore centre for big business and many ordinary Russian citizens also have their money in Cypriot banks.
Uniastrum Bank customer Lyubov said:
“When I heard about it, my first thought was of course ‘oh God, I have money there!‘ And I got scared, really scared.”
Almost half of the money held by non-residents in Cyprus is believed to come from Russians.
At the end of last year Moody’s credit-rating agency put the amount deposited by Russian banks and corporations at around 24 billion euros.