The latest Article «Operation Party», published on the website «Cyprus daily news» generated great public interest. The editorial office received and more importantly perceived a lot of feedback both from individuals and various states` public authorities.
The previous part addressed relatively newly established (in 2017) Russian political party in Cyprus «I am a citizen» — «Ego O Politis» a.k.a EOП. Party`s founders are Alexey Voloboev and Ivan Mikhnevich, both businessmen residing in Cyprus.
Having considered all pros and cons, the party appeared to be a «front man». It imitates some political activity, receives funding, apparently with the blessing of Moscow and serves Russian national interests.
In fact, the party is stillborn. Neither «Ego O Politis» aims to fill in offices at the public authorities, nor it runs for general democratic elections. There is a Central Committee of the party and so called «Politburo» (principal policymaking committee of the party). It consists of several naturalized Russian nationals and Greek Cypriots who currently reside in Cyprus, but earlier studied in Russia.
This political party is closely affiliated with the Embassy of the Russian Federation in the Republic of Cyprus. Moreover, it`s often engaged in pro-Putin propaganda. The EOP party strives to win several seats in the Parliament of Cyprus on the future elections in 2021, in other words, the purpose is to penetrate the political system of Cyprus, to gain access to state secrets and finally to conduct full-scale Moscow influence on Cypriot political doctrine and relations. The perfect scenario for the EOP is to make a Kremlin-loyal person win Presidential elections, later on manipulate the pocket President of the Republic of Cyprus and prepare country for withdrawal from the European Union.
Political activity of the party equal to zero. Firstly, the EOP does not welcome either the constituency or its supporters to the ranks of the party. Secondly, the party never participated in any elections (since its establishment in 2017). As to upcoming parliamentary elections, the EOP plans to rely on bribery of the Russian of voters who have acquired Cypriot citizenship and the Pontic Greek who once emigrated from the USSR after its dissolution, but in contrast to non-existent USSR, Soviet mentality is still a feature of many emigrants. The estimated volume of this constituency is about 15.000 voters. According to some data at our disposal, significant amount of financial assets have already been allocated for this purpose.
From a more general standpoint, actions of the Russian EOP party fall within the framework of very specific tasks of the Russian special services, such as undermining the political perils in foreign countries. Their tasks are executed in a variety of ways e.g. bribery of existing political parties and politicians in democratic countries of the West, registration of more or less science oriented organizations, sham social and scientific funds. Special attention is given to propaganda in media and dissemination of fake news.
The main concern is that activities of such a front party could appear to be effective. Taking into account that Cyprus is located on a relatively small island with a population of less than a million, the modest number of MPs (56 totally) and a large Russian community with, indeed, mostly wealthy and affiliated people may pose some political threats.
We do not possess the competence to declare that the latest publication about the activities of the EOP caused the bombshell effect for the subjects of the research, although their reaction to our article turned out to be absolutely pejorative.
The editor-in-chief of Cyprus Daily News — Boris Demash and the author of the article — Dmitry Chmelnitski immediately after publication was released received completely unambiguous life threats and warnings.
The core issue was that some Russian oligarchs mentioned in the first part of the article became furious after they saw their affiliation with the EOP disclosed and allegedly filed claims with the EOP leadership for leaking data. The other aspect we know is that members of the aggrieved party collectively decided to undertake some «special measures» to us, which have nothing to do with the democratic public rebuttal, some clarifications or request to provide specifications for information contained in the article.
The Cyprus Daily News editors and their relatives received threats not from a bystander, but the party-authorized speaker and the well-known Cypriot Russian-speaking blogger — Alexey Voloboev. Right, it`s the founder of the EOP himself and often mistaken as gentleman.
It is impossible to assess seriousness of these threats at the moment, but it is also hard to write them off recalling who are subjects of the article and what position they hold. It does not seem right to sympathize those who make intimidating remarks as in a second they may know your front door.
To be totally open with public, the Party never requested any public rebuttal or objection to the substance of the facts presented in the article at issue.
The Russian Party on Cyprus — EOP was created with enthusiasm and excitement. Various specialists and groups of individuals with different political and commercial interests were involved in the new political project. One common feature became the backbone of the idea — they were all successful people, all from post-Soviet countries and all soaked by rumors that they were somehow connected with the Russian authorities.
Relying on the source who is close to the founder of the party Voloboev, the active phase of negotiations on the organization of a new political party in Cyprus occurred in autumn 2016.
Meetings of settlors took place in the famous tavern «Taras Bulba» and karaoke club «Sinatra» in Limassol. Coincidentally, the owner of abovementioned two placed was the first president of the EOP Alexey Voloboev.
At the first stage party deliberations were similar to some brainstorm process. According to our source, the founders of the party: Ivan Mikhnevich, Alexey Voloboev and others were at the forefront of the project.
As the same source told us, in October 2016, Yuri Synodov, a Russian Internet journalist and currently Director of Development SMI2, Editor-in-Chief of the Roem.ru arrived in Cyprus from Moscow. His tasks encompass reviewing markets of Internet companies and social networks.
Mr. Synodov, in conformity with a source close to the founder of EOP Voloboev, was actively involved in the project development right from the registration of the party. He is also a member of the private business group of Igor Ashmanov, one of the founders and the most famous top manager of the Russian IT industry, an expert in the field of information technologies, artificial intelligence and software development, Internet marketing and search optimization.
IT entrepreneur Igor Ashmanov is also co-chairman together with Nikolai Starikov of the Russian political «Partiya Velikoe Otechestvo» (literally — Great Fatherland Party (GFP.) Worth mentioning that Nikolai Starikov was a trustee of the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin.
Information about the arranging stage of the Party project was received by us directly from a source to whom the first President of the EOP Voloboev himself transmit ed this information.
[With due consideration to the readers we kindly inform that after publication of this article we have made clarifications and amendments to the information about the participants of organizational meetings and funding of the party, CDN].
In a private conversation with a well-known Russian-speaking blogger, Voloboev leaked details about individuals who allegedly finance the party and advocated its interests. (FYI, a transcript of the conversation is available in the editorial office of CDN).
In particular, he shared his understanding of social and political activities.
Several people who viewed Mr. Voloboev`s remarks about society and the constituency told us that he repeatedly stated that there no need in new poll and he would not promote the party. The EOP leader also doesn`t care about real challenges ordinary people face on a daily basis.
As it appears the party has no priority to work with and for the rights of «cattle». At the same time taking control over Cypriot Facebook network and the Russian-speaking media is essential. According to Mr. Voloboev, six months before the parliamentary elections in 2021 commence he will carry out massive information processing of locals. Controlling Cypriot groups in Facebook will allow him to manipulate the minds of voters and thus he will supposedly get seats for his party in the Parliament. There are also ideas to bribe polls and use the resources of ethnic community leaders for a «one party vote» scheme. This was subject of the earlier Article.
Due to our source, businesses in the Cypriot IT sphere where are the forefront of the monetary assistance to Cypriot party members. According to this source, «funding the needs of the party by these lads did not take much effort as it were peanuts compared with their own expenses.»
Commercial opinion leaders
Coming back to the oligarchs associated with the party and current threats received by the CDN employees, the first part of the article mentioned only two people of an immense social and monetary status. The first is the Pontian Greek billionaire Ivan Savvidis, who agreed, according to Voloboev, to help to convince members of the Pontian community in Cyprus to vote for the EOP.
The second is the Russian «coal king», oligarch Dmitry Bosov. He`s a chairman of the board of directors of the group «Alltek», co-owner of the group «Sibanthracite» and Holding «Orientugol». It goes without saying that he`s the right hand of businessman Dmitry Yakushev who is the vice-president of the EOP party.
According to the information disclosed to the editorial office from our sources and due to Voloboev, Mr. Yakushev, allegedly on behalf of Mr. Bosov, held negotiations with some Cypriot government officials to advance the project to transfer Cypriot power plants from petroleum products to coal. To solve this problem Dmitry Yakushev, as it`s heard through the grapevine, attracted the former Minister of Energy of Cyprus to solve the matter at issue. His job is to promote Bosov`s interests on this topic in government groups and find a way to stimulate their interest in the project. What are these methods undertaken by Bosov and Yakushev to stimulate the interest of some Cypriot officials is currently unknown.
The economic and environmental feasibility of such a project for Cyprus is under concern, but it is difficult to overestimate the benefits that can be gained by Russia if the island sticks to only energy source – coal from Russia.
As some rumors voiced by a blogger close to Voloboev mention, the coal negotiations allegedly involved functionaries of the Cypriot political party, who have close ties with Russia since the USSR.
What is the party at issue is just a question of time.
As we have already discussed, elections to the Cypriot Parliament will commence in 2021, and the EOP does its best to secure seats for its MPs even before the poll. Hereunder you will discover one curious method used by Russian party leaders.
Under the laws of the Republic of Cyprus, if any incumbent member of Parliament terminates his membership in one party and turn to to a party that is not represented in the Parliament, it automatically becomes a parliamentary party. Therefore, the leaders of the EOP party 3 years ago already searched for the MPs of all levels of government, who in the future can be lured to their side. The idea of «inverting» was generally smart. Its main advantage is that without participation in direct elections, the road to the representative authority is still open.
As one of the municipal deputies told us that immediately after the registration of the Russian EOP Alexey Voloboev called him and offered to switch to his party. Since the chances of future success achieved by his party were low from the very beginning, our source continues, he seriously considered the proposal of the leader of the Russian party to transition.
Similar proposals from the President of the EOP had been received not only by municipal, but also by republican deputies before they got strong into politics.
Negotiations between the EOP and the Cypriot MP Anna Theologou began in 2018. She won a seat in Parliament from the centrist «Civic Union», which later left the native party and became an independent deputy. To convince Anna to move on to the new party, she was groomed as much as she could. Representatives of the Russian Embassy even took part in the negotiations, as the sources reports.
In the process of political «courtship», Theologou was taken to Russia, where she was photographed with Putin. On this trip she was accompanied by Alexey Voloboev and the current president of the party Jorgos Kunturis. The results are obvious, as the next forum in Russia she attended independently.
The time framework of the official announcement of the transition of Theologou to the EOP were planned, but postponed. Something all the time prevents it from happening. As we were told by credible sources, attempts to lure Anna Theologou into the Russian party became known to the leadership of other parliamentary parties of Cyprus, which disappointed them and resulted in disapproving reaction.
Finally the EOP`s plants and executors were clearly informed that until they play by the rules, no one touches them and they can do their business bit by bit. But once Anna Theologou becomes a member of the EOP party, they will be treated as political opponents. Apparently, this warning somehow cooled heads of the Russian party members. To make the long story short, the transition of Theologou to the party has not taken place yet.
But, according to Voloboev, with or without membership in the EOP Theologou «is still ours, pro-Russian.» «She`s been under Moscow`s eye for a long time. She will support our party. And when we appear in Parliament, we will unite our efforts.»
Being captured in «fascist captivity»
The founders of the EOP Alexey Voloboev and Ivan Mikhnevich in all conversations and interviews emphasize that they are Cypriot politicians. Voloboev also boasts that he is also a European politician. At the same time, both founders of the party deeply despise Cyprus and its indigenous inhabitants.
Numerous witnesses may support the fact than not a single time they heard from naturalized Voloboev and Mikhnevich statements describing Cypriots «stupid, primitive, lazy savages, xenophobes and fascists». What do these two great party leaders say about Cyprus? According to them it`s «banana republic, fascist, prostitution state and a reserve of idiots in which they are forced to live».
Mikhnevich is convinced and loves to speculate that the ruling Cypriot party DISY is a typical «terrorist organization,» as its roots lie in EOKA B, a Greek Cypriot paramilitary organization formed in 1971 by General Georgios Grivas and advocating the immediate accession of Cyprus to Greece (Enosis). And all the problems in Cyprus, he said, come from the fact that the country is ruled by terrorists, xenophobes and fascists.
He attentively omits the mere idea that these «xenophobes and fascists» gave him Cypriot citizenship and kindly gave him the opportunity to live quietly in the EU country as a dignified person with a «golden passport» in his pocket..
Moreover, people who call themselves Cypriot politicians, hate the country and Cypriots. They are cynical and unashamed, but for some reason they decide to run for elections, hiding behind slogans about transformation, improving the lives of the society they despise, the State and its citizens.
Over time, it turned out that the views of «politicians» from the EOP are still very far from European. For example, firstly in private conversations and then in public they started to voice that «EU sanctions against Russia are unfair, Ukraine does not exist, Americans and Jews are guilty of every trouble».
A new serious drama for the Russian-speaking nationals of Cyprus broke out in autumn 2018, when Voloboev publicly addressed against gay couples on his Facebook. At that moment he headed the party.
At that moment this self-proclaimed «European politician» publicly and clearly failed to speak on the topic significant to LGBT people. Despite the fact message was actually sent by him, the content was copied. His thoughts on LGBT for the Russian-speaking Cypriot community Voloboev took, from the program propaganda message by Alexander Rogers «Liberalism — the path of degradation,» which was slightly cut and a couple of words altered.
After these remarks, the EOP realized the mistake and tried to calm down the hate so that the president`s public homophobic statements would not harm the party`s image. Some copywriters wrote for Voloboev few drafts of exculpatory comments, which he then put on his Facebook.
The correspondence dated that period from the party chat is at our disposal. We cite only its part, which illustrates the hypocrisy of the party`s leadership and inability of president Voloboev to write texts independently and be take responsibility for what is done.
Discussions that the EOP Party and its founder Voloboev are under the 24/7 control of the Russian authorities and special services has been rumouring since the first days of the party. The first president of the EOP has repeatedly stated that he regularly meets with Russian officials of the highest rank.
We obtained information from two different sources that Voloboev told them that during his trips to Moscow he met with the ex-assistant to the President of the Russian Federation and the responsible for waging hybrid war in Ukraine Vladislav Surkov. He is sanctioned by the EU and the United States. The other person they met was Chairman of the Committee on International Affairs of the State Duma of the Russian Federation Leonid Slutsky, also sanctioned by the European Union, the United States and Canada. We go further with the deputy head of the central executive committee of the «Yedinaya Rossiya» (United Russia Party), Andrei Parfenov, Head of the Party Department for Regional and Technological Work, Overseeing all regional elections in «YR», Chairman of the State Duma of the Russian Federation Vyacheslav Volodin and the first Deputy Head of the Administration of the President of the Russian Federation Sergey Kiriyenko.
The abovementioned list of people the head of the Cyprus party EOP Voloboev met is not full. However, other people he spoke to in the capital of Russia are officials with lower ranks.
In fact some Russian political spinedoctors having learned lessons in Crimea, Ukraine and the West (described in the first part of the research) were sent just as military troops to help prospective «politicians» from the EOP. By doing this Moscow undoubtedly expresses its own interest in this political project in Cyprus.
In addition to purely political steps, representatives of the Russian party took very unusual approach.
When in summer 2017, the EOP was in the process of registering, newly self-proclaimed politicians were actively preparing for the solemn opening of the party. The founders of «I am a citizen» decided to mark, «in the best traditions of PR,» with hype and shine to celebrate the registration of the EOP in Limassol.
The dream and consequently the goal was to appear on the frontpages of both local mass media and world newspapers. As we heard from our interlocutors who participated in the organizational events, the Party members invented, in their opinion, a brilliant method — they decided to bring and install a monument to Vladimir Lenin in Limassol.
Since few busts of Pushkin and Gagarin in Cyprus have already been installed, according to the plan of the Political Council of the party, members agreed to bring a bust of the leader of the world proletariat to surprise the future constituency and journalists.
By chance members of the EOP hit upon information about one of the monuments dismantled in Kyiv to Lenin, and sent a request to a responsible district administration.
The administration of the Holosiivskyi district of Kyiv, as it`s stated in the document, sent the applicants from the EOP to the organization, which took the sculpture of the dismantled Lenin on its private property account.
In any case, the «creative» idea of the party to install the monument to Lenin in Cyprus was never executed. Nevertheless this story shed some light and gave understanding of party doctrine and actions of the EOP leaders, who call themselves Cypriot and European politicians.
Dmitry CHMELNITSKI and Boris DEMASH
DISCLAIMER: The English version is a translation of the original in Russian for information purposes only. All names, titles of organisations and governmental bodies are up-to-date and correctly translated into English. In case of a discrepancy, the Russian original will prevail. Source: Cyprus Daily News