Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said that the amount of so-called "gray deposits" of Russian citizens in Cyprus banks was exaggerated. According to him, "a large number of government agencies of the Russian Federation work through Cyprus, as it is convenient jurisdiction for transactions."
"They have their money blocked now for unknown reason, because the source of this money is obvious." "That's why - he added, - Russia has to take such a strong position regarding the events around Cyprus and debt settlement of Cyprus."
As for deposits, which, "as they say, are of specific character and testify to "gray "schemes of withdrawing money from Russia," the head of the Russian government stated in his interview to Interfax, and a number of European media, that "their amount is not as significant as it is generally believed."
Prior to the acute phase of the financial crisis in Cyprus, the chairman of the Central Bank of Cyprus, Panicos Dimitriadis, said that the amounts of Russian deposits range from 4.943 to 10.225 billion euros. The lower limit of this amount is the amount of deposits that are officially declared as Russian ones. The second amount appears if the deposits of all "dummy companies" are added, suggesting that all of those companies are Russian. "But in reality, not all these funds are related to Russia - approximately only about 50 percent of them do," said. Dimitriadis.
Medvedev said that it was highly important fro the Russian administration to receive complete information from Cypriot partners "so that those who withdraw money from the Russian economy would either receive a proper assessment on the part of the state or be held accountable for that," Medvedev said.
On March 21 and 22, Medvedev will hold talks in Moscow with representatives of the European Union. During the talks, the prime minister is going to discuss the financial crisis in Cyprus in detail. He did not clarify, though, whether the proposed EU measures to resolve the Cyprus problem may affect the relations with Russia. "We have to wait for the final decision", said the prime minister and expressed a hope that, in the long run, a thought-out decision would be made that would help Cyprus and leave Russia's ties with the EU unharmed.
Medvedev gave his lengthy interview to journalists in Gorki, near Moscow. Agencies were airing the interview from Wednesday evening till Thursday morning. The prime minister used quite a few emphatic expressions during the interview. For example, he compared the EU and the Government of Cyprus to an "elephant in a china shop" and said that the intention to introduce a one-time tax on deposits in Cypriot banks resembled Bolsheviks' actions in Soviet Russia. "The measure, which has been proposed, is clearly expropriatory, confiscatory and unprecedented in nature," he said.
The Government of Cyprus, at the insistence of EU creditors, made a preliminary decision on forced cancellation of a part of bank deposits in the form of tax - 6.75% from deposits of 20-100 thousand euros and 9.9% from larger deposits. This caused panic among investors and endangered the financial system of the island.
The Parliament of Cyprus rejected the proposed bill on Tuesday. Bank holidays were introduced for two days, March 19 and 20. All payments, including intra-wiring ones were suspended. On Wednesday evening, it was reported that the decision to close financial institutions was extended for Thursday and Friday - March 21 and 22. Thus, the forced bank holiday will last at least until Tuesday, March 26, since Saturday, Sunday and Monday are bank holidays too.
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