An unidentified Russian tourist, 45, who had only arrived in Nicosia on April 30, was found raped and strangled to death at a tourist site (Amathoundas) near the southern coastal town of Limassol on Saturday (May 5). Her body was found by two passersby.
The victim's passport and other belongings were found in a nearly hotel, although her identity will be confirmed through DNA analysis. From all indications, she was traveling alone.
COMMENT: An autopsy has revealed that the tourist had been sexually assaulted, strangled and had also been hit severely on the head with a rock.
Although Cyprus has experienced political upheaval for decades, largely stemming from the partition of the island by Turkish forces during the 1974 invasion, in the years that I lived on the island (1975-1977 and 1996-1998), violent crime was relatively rare. Yet, in recent years, the presence of Russian organized crime has had a detrimental influence.
On Saturday morning, a 45-year-old man was gunned down outside his Nicosia betting shop. The preceding Thursday a Paphos pensioner was found dead in the middle of the road after having been run over twice. In another case, a Romanian tourist was tied to a chair, beaten and strangled last week possibly over a personal dispute.
Unfortunately, many foreign tourists who have heard incorrectly that Cyprus is one of the safest of countries, have been victimized in recent years. In particular, there have been a number of cases where women traveling alone to the island have been severely raped and beaten, and in some cases even killed.