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THE RUSSIAN House in Limassol marked its fifth anniversary with a brief ceremony in which leading Limassol lawyer Andreas Neocleous was honoured by the Russkyi Mir Foundation.

Nikolai Sergeichev, a representative of the Russkyi Mir Foundation, came to Cyprus for this event and awarded Neocleous a diploma for his: “outstanding contribution to the development of cooperation between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Cyprus in economic, cultural and humanitarian fields”.

Neocleous was the first foreign lawyer to open a law office in Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union and played a leading role in promoting Cyprus as a business centre and attracting Russian businesses to Cyprus. The premises that house the Russian House were provided by the lawyer, for which all speakers expressed their gratitude.

Roman Vavilov, the president of the Russian House, which mainly arranges cultural events and has a small library, said: “In the five years that passed since the opening, we have achieved the target set at the start. Every year 2,500 people visit the house including Cypriots.”

Limassol mayor, Nicos Nicolaides, thanked the Limassol lawyer for everything he had done for the town and praised the part played by the Russian community in Cyprus.

“We in Limassol greatly appreciate the presence of Russian and Russian-speaking friends, who chose Limassol as their second country,” he said. He also praised “their positive and instrumental contribution to Limassol in all fields”.

 Receiving his honour, Neocleous spoke about the close ties he has with the Russian community and of his love for Russian people and culture. He said he became acquainted with Russian culture in prison where he had spent three years during the liberation struggle. He was incarcerated by the British in 1956 at the age of 16.

In prison he became acquainted with the great Russian writers and Russian culture.

“In prison there was a very small and poor library, which contained very few books, among which were the works of Leo Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky and Maxim Gorki. I was greatly influenced by these, which I read over and over again,” he said.

A message by foreign minister Nikos Christodoulides was read by former ambassador Marios Ieronymides. Christodoulides noted the special significance of strong Cyprus-Russian relations and congratulated Mr Neocleous and all those that contributed to this development.