2 Mar, 2022 @ 15:00
2 mins read

Russians in Spain struggle as sanctions bite over Ukraine invasion

Protests Against Russia's Attack On Ukraine In Vendrell, Spain 1 Mar 2022
Vendrell, Tarragona. Photo: Cordon Press.

RUSSIANS in Spain are facing a backlash after the invasion of Ukraine, with reports of assaults and blackmail.

And as banking sanctions start to bite, many find themselves with no cash and credit cards blocked with no way of buying food and essentials.

The European Union has cut Russians from SWIFT, which is a service that allows people to do international transfers.

While many long-time residents of Spain have local bank accounts, others have relied on their Russian accounts and credit cards, which are now frozen.

Alexander Chepulrnoy, the president of the Russian association in Alicante, told the Olive Press: 

“Someone called me two hours ago, saying that his bank accounts had been blocked. I told them that they should go to the bank to see if they can solve it.”

According to him, not only have they blocked credit accounts of Russians with no residence permit but also of Russians with residence in Spain.”

He said this situation is ‘illegal’ because international law is not being respected.

Moreover, he believes that if the bank accounts of Russians based in Spain continue to be blocked, they will not be able to pay their bills – which means sanctions against Russians will have a knock on effect on Spanish companies.

Chepulrnoy, added that Russians based in Spain are suffering from ‘Russiaphobia’

“I know of two cases of Russians being assaulted and also of blackmail”.

He said that this situation is impacting the Russian community emotionally. “We are having  a bad time, we are losing friends, people are feeling very low at the moment.”

Over on the Costa del Sol, Marbella has 2,300 Russians registered as living there, and they are facing similar problems.

There were four weekly flights from Malaga to Moscow. They have been cancelled leaving the Russian community stranded.

Svetlana Ciliuta, president of the Association of Russian Speakers Nash Dom, said that many families will have problems. “Men travel a lot for their business and their wives and children stay here,” she told Spanish newspaper, El Pais

This lifestyle is now unviable due to international sanctions. “Nor will they be able to buy new homes,” added Ciliuta, referring to the ban on European banks accepting deposits of more than €100,000 from Russian citizens or companies.

Elena Romanova arrived in 1996 and opened her own real estate agency, Ventura Properties in 2003. Her compatriots make up around 10% of the luxury real estate market in the area. Many reside year-round. Others, by seasons. She told El Pais: “We have clients with homes here. Now excluded from the Swift system. I don’t know if they will be able to pay. How is it going to be solved? It’s a disaster.”


Jorge Hinojosa

Jorge Hinojosa Mena was born and bred in Madrid before moving to the UK to study. After an undergraduate degree in Manchester, he completed an MA in International Journalism at City. He has worked in radio and for Spain’s Efe news agency before joining the Olive Press in March 2022. Contact: [email protected]

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