Theodoros Rakopoulos
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On offshore citizens in Cyprus
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The ethnographic narrative in this chapter analyses the buyers of golden passports and others in the Russophone community of Limassol that assist them to do so. This community involves people working as promoters and sellers of the Cypriot passport to fellow Russians, or Russophones providing financial, banking and other services to the core group of passport-holding elites. Bridging the gaps between an ethnography understanding expat communities as players in offshoring, and the more general analyses of offshoring processes, I here examine a “Russian” milieu that extends far wider than those naturalised through golden passports. I do this with two aims in mind. Firstly, I show how what we call expat communities can be the solidification of offshoring processes. Secondly, I argue that the offshored world described here, peaks on what I analytically call “offshore citizenship” – the purchase of golden passports which guarantee safety for people and money. My argument is that “offshore citizens” in Cyprus seek a “safe harbour” (to borrow an interlocutor’s phrase), a hub away from the residues of regulation in the contemporary capitalist regime, with its various fissures and frictions that deter their activity and even sense of self. Showing how the global citizenship utopia is materialised locally, through parts of the Russophone community, the chapter shows how what we often see as “expat communities” can form not on leisure but rather as enclaves of safety that offer offshore convenience for certain elite community members.

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Passport island

The market for EU citizenship in Cyprus


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