NEWS

Anastasiades says deal with Russia on Cyprus bailout a priority

Nicos Anastasiades, the front-runner to be Cyprus’s next president, said reaching agreement with Russia on its participation in a financial rescue for Cyprus will be his “first and immediate priority” if he wins on Feb. 24.

“My feeling from recent contacts with Russian officials is that Russia is ready to seriously examine this possibility” of contributing to Cyprus’s bailout, Anastasiades said Thursday in an e-mailed response to questions. “Reaching an agreement with Russia will be one of my first and immediate priorities.”

Anastasiades will compete with communist party-backed Stavros Malas this Sunday after no candidate secured an absolute majority in a first round vote on Feb. 17. The winner of this weekend’s election needs to revive stalled talks with the European Union on funds to save the island nation from collapse.

German officials have insisted Russia, which lent Cyprus 2.5 billion euros ($3.3 billion) in 2011, participate in any rescue for Cyprus and have called for an investigation into whether the island is being used for money laundering.

Anastasiades placed first with 45.5 percent of the vote compared with Malas’s 26.9 percent on Feb. 17.

Cyprus has been in negotiations with the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund over the size and terms of a bailout since June, when it became the fifth euro area country to request aid after its banks lost 4.5 billion euros in a restructuring of sovereign Greek debt. [Bloomberg]