UPDATE 1-Cyprus says has assurances from Russia on EU bailout
NICOSIA, Jan 30 (Reuters) - Cypriot President Demetris Christofias said on Wednesday the island nation had assurances from Russia that it was ready to assist in a European Union bailout of Cyprus.
Cyprus, one of the smallest euro zone economies, applied for financial aid from the EU and the International Monetary Fund last June after its banks were hurt by a writedown of Greek debt held by private investors.
"President (Vladimir) Putin assured me that the Russian Federation is ready to contribute with the European Union in the financing of Cyprus," Christofias told Cypriot reporters during a visit to Belgrade, adding he hoped for a positive conclusion soon.
Christofias, who in the Serbian capital for talks with his counterpart Tomislav Nikolic, said he spoke to Putin on the phone on Tuesday evening.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was quoted as saying on Monday that Russia could provide support to Cyprus under certain conditions but the island itself and the European Union would have to take the biggest share in a potential bailout.
The help from Russia could come in the form of an extension to a 5-year 2.5 billion euro loan Moscow granted Nicosia in 2011.
The Mediterranean island has had close political ties with Russia for decades and it has had to contend with misgivings from lender states over how committed it is to fighting money-laundering.