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Fire severely damages Russian cultural centre in Cyprus

Sabotage acts loom over Russia Victory Day celebrations
Source: Video Screenshot

A large fire caused extensive damage Wednesday at the Russian cultural centre in the capital of Cyprus, which is home to thousands of Russians as well as Ukrainian refugees.

The cause is under investigation.

Five fire engines responded to the blaze in central Nicosia at around 1:45 pm, the fire service said.

Witnesses saw a large plume of smoke as flames seemed to engulf the outside of the building.

Others said they heard explosions.

“The entire building has suffered extensive damage,” Fire Service spokesman Andreas Kettis tweeted. “The causes of the fire will be investigated in cooperation with the police and, if necessary, other state services.”

AFP was not immediately able to reach anyone from the centre to comment.

Russian state-run TASS news agency quoted Russian ambassador to Cyprus Murat Zyazikov as saying there were no casualties and “different theories are being looked at” to determine what happened at the facility, formally known as the Russian Centre for Science and Culture.

TASS also quoted the centre’s head, Alina Radchenko, as citing witness comments that “Molotov cocktails were thrown into the building.”

This could not be verified by the Cyprus police or fire officials.

According to TASS, she said “two loud blasts” occurred, after which a wall and the roof caught fire.

The centre, part of which is wrapped in large bands of red, white and blue paint, the colours of the Russian flag, is operated by the country’s embassy.

It was built in 1978 and is located in a separate part of the city from the embassy itself.

There are more than 18,000 Russians and more than 4,600 Ukrainians living on the Mediterranean island, according to official Cypriot government statistics last year.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in early 2022, European Union member Cyprus has also received around 10,000 Ukrainian refugees.

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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