The Russian ambassador to Malta has been suspended from his honorary membership at the Casino Maltese, an elite social club, following Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine.

In an email sent to the ambassador, part of which was copied to the club’s members, the club’s committee of management condemned “the harsh and baseless decision taken by your President, Vladimir Putin, to invade Ukraine, declaring war on a sovereign State in blatant breach of international law, killing innocent people and putting millions of citizens at risk of life and hardship".

The Casino Maltese is a social club created in 1852, with premises in Valletta's Republic Street. It is a club for the elite with access restricted to members. 

The Casino Maltese in Republic Street, Valletta. Photo: Casino MalteseThe Casino Maltese in Republic Street, Valletta. Photo: Casino Maltese

Russia’s ambassador to Malta, Andrei Lopukhov, gained access to the Casino Maltese after presenting his credentials to President George Vella late last year.

“We are determined to uphold the ethos of the Casino Maltese as enshrined in the motto Omnibus Idem (All Equal),” the letter said.

“It is for these reasons, and in the spirit of respect for Sovereignty of State, solidarity for Ukraine and its innocent people, and with a firm rejection of the use of force by President Putin on foreign territory, that the Committee of Management is suspending, with immediate effect, your honorary membership and that of your wife Irina Lopukhova, to which you were entitled to as ambassador accredited to Malta, following the presentation of your credentials to President George Vella on the 16 December 2021,” the email said.

Malta is upholding all sanctions imposed by the EU and closed its airspace to Russian airlines in response to the invasion of Ukraine.

On Wednesday, Malta suspended Russians and Belarusians from its cash-for-passports scheme, in a dramatic change of stance. In a statement, the government said that “recent developments” - a reference to the Russian invasion of Ukraine - the necessary due diligence checks cannot be carried out effectively.

“Consequently, Community Malta Agency and Residency Malta Agency have suspended, until further notice, the processing of applications for the above-mentioned statuses from nationals of the Russian Federation and Belarus,” the government said. 

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