Russia says bomb caused deadly train wreck

A BOMB caused the derailment of a Russian high-speed train that killed dozens and injured nearly 100, a senior official said yesterday, in the worst attack on the country’s heartland in five years.

The 14-carriage Nevsky Express, carrying 682 passengers and 29 crew, was derailed on Friday night on the busy main line between Moscow and Russia’s second city, St Petersburg.

“A bomb equivalent to 7 kg of TNT was detonated,” the head of the Federal Security Service (FSB) domestic intelligence agency, Alexander Bortnikov, told Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, citing the results of a preliminary investigation.

Our View: Cyprus will accept whatever the big players decide

AFTER all the tough talk and the breast beating, the government is now urging “calm and patience” over a draft European Council report that makes no mention of possible sanctions against Turkey’s EU accession process, despite its failure to normalise relations with the Republic of Cyprus.

On Thursday, politicians had queued up to lament the European Parliament’s decision to approve the Council’s draft report, despite the vain efforts of Cypriot MEPs to include an amendment threatening sanctions in case of Turkey’s failure to comply with obligations to recognise the Republic and open its ports and airports to Cypriot traffic.

Coffeeshop: The five stages of dying and death

IT’S THAT time of year when we start working our way into a state of mass hysteria over Turkey’s EU progress report which would not include any sanctions for her failure to implement the Ankara Protocol, also known as the refusal to fulfil her obligations to the EU and Cyprus.

I do not want to sound morbid but our reaction to the progress report saga, has very strong similarities to Dr Kubler-Ross’ five stages of dying and death – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. OK, in 2006 we jumped from bargaining to acceptance, without going through depression, but that was because we had a very able foreign minister.

Cyprus ‘not affected’ by Dubai fall-out

THE news this week that Dubai World had requested a six-month repayment moratorium on its $59 billion debt – representing most of the country’s offi cial $80 billion or so debt – produced panic in the world’s stock markets, sparked by fears that banks had large debt exposures to state companies in Dubai.

As the markets digest their shock over Dubai World – the Gulf state’s government-owned conglomerate behind some of the region’s highest-profi le property and sports projects – the question now is the potential indirect impact on European economies of Dubai’s economic diffi culties in general and the $12 billion in syndicated and bilateral loans extended by international banks to Dubai World in particular.

When the nays go marching in


THE SOUND of the war drum has been beating ominously louder in recent weeks as those forces opposed to a solution in its current form prepare for battle over the island’s future.

The battle may never come. The odds are even as to whether the rickety wagon on which the talks rest can make it up the rugged mountain, dodging arrows and vertical drops at every turn.

Analogies aside, whether the two leaders ever make it to an agreed solution which goes to referenda is unknown, but if what the grapevine says is true, the ‘NO’ camp is not about to sit and wait to find out.

The status quo goes critical

“CRITICAL phase” has become perhaps the most used cliché in the history of the Cyprus problem which has gone through dozens of critical phases, though no serious crisis has ever arisen.

From one “critical phase” to the next, a divided Cyprus was reborn, amassed wealth and joined the European Union. Cypriot society easily overcame the shock from the violent division of 1974; the “drama of Cyprus” has long become nothing more than a rhetorical device. As Hugo Gobi, former UN Special Representative for Cyprus, observes in his book, “Cyprus’ drama is the lack of drama.”

The Green Line may become greener!

TENTATIVE plans have been drawn up examining the possibility of turning Cyprus’s dividing line into a state park.

“We have to start with landscaping, and maybe the old Nicosia airport would be a showcase opportunity for this.” said Anna Grichting, a Fellow at Harvard University and one of the people involved in the project.

Though a lot of possible environmental usages for the strip of land in question are being considered within the framework of the project, the basic idea is quite clear: put the dividing line to good use.

Making us safe behind the lines

THE FIRST thing you notice when you cross the Green Line is the wildlife. Uninhabited since 1974, small woods teem with birds and the fields are already a lush green after the rains.

I am heading out into the buffer zone near Yeri just outside of Nicosia with Simon Porter, head of the Mine Action Service. Since the organisation began demining in 2004, they have removed some 15,200 mines and released over 7.5 square kilometres of land.

Porter talks me through the set up. “There are 71 mine fields in the buffer zone and so far we have cleared 56 of them. We are working on two now and we hope to finish within a year. Our mandate is to support UNFICYP; so after we have cleared the remaining 15 or so fields, we will either go home or continue to give assistance.”

DISY calls on Christofias to ask for help

NICOS Anastassiades, President of DISY, called on President Christofias yesterday to request expert help in the negotiations process.

“Maybe the President thinks he does not need additional political and scientific support. Does the President genuinely believe that he will cope with the Turkish diplomatic machine alone?” asked Anastassiades.

Anastassiades was speaking at the 13th National Conference of DISY. “The President should finally come to the realization that his negotiating team requires reinforcement at an essential level, and this should not be considered a reproach against anyone.” he said.