Our View: AKEL email confirms what we all knew to be the system

THE MEDIA had field day with the internal AKEL email about political favours, which was intended for party boss Andros Kyprianou but was mistakenly sent to journalists. It was not that journalists had discovered something they did not know, but this time they had the documentation to support the widely-held view that rusfeti (political favours) was rampant, regardless of what the president would have us believe.

Spy suspect arrested leaving Cyprus

A MAN suspected of being the 11th member of a US spy ring allegedly working for Russia was arrested and released on bail in Cyprus yesterday.

Robert Christopher Metsos, 54, was arrested at Larnaca airport as he tried to leave the island for Budapest at around 3am yesterday, police said. By midday, the Larnaca District Court released Canadian passport-holder Metsos on €26,500 bail, after he deposited €20,000 and CAN$9,000 in cash, to reappear in court within 30 days, when an extradition hearing will start.

It is highly unusual for Cyprus courts to issue bail for foreign nationals pending extradition. In court hearings prosecutors frequently cite the risk of flight via the north.

AKEL’s ‘fair society’ branded a distasteful joke

RULING AKEL chief Andros Kyprianou yesterday tried to play down an email containing requests for nepotism sent to the media by accident by his secretary.

Other parties were quick to criticise AKEL when it is well known that nepotism is a major component of Cypriot political life.

“I am truly sorry because it is attempted – for obvious reasons – by some to give the matter dimensions it does not have,” Kyprianou told state radio. The story broke on Monday when Kyprianou’s secretary sent to the media by accident his phone messages, which included details of a deal over who was being suggested for a senior public sector job.

Cheap cigarettes to stay despite ailing public finances

THE GOVERNMENT has no plans to raise cigarette duty to meet the EU average, despite having the heaviest smokers in the union, high instances of heart disease and a huge gap in public finances, sources in the Finance Ministry said yesterday.

According to a Eurostat report released this week, the cost of tobacco products in Cyprus is 12 per cent below the EU average at a time when the burgeoning budget deficit is over €1 billion and smoking is a leading cause of death and healthcare costs.

According to one anti-smoking campaigner, it is imperative that the government follow the lead of other EU countries, such as the UK, where increased taxes have successfully deterred smokers.

Up to a quarter of hotel workers undeclared

UNDECLARED employment in the hotel and restaurant sectors has reached 25 per cent, the labour minister said yesterday.

Sotiroulla Charalambous said over the past year the ministry’s officials carried out some 4,000 inspections in workplaces, which employed 12,500 people.

The inspections found that some 24 to 25 per cent of employees had not been declared, the minister said.

The highest percentage of undeclared employment is among EU and third country workers.

Charalambous said measures were taken to assure the employers’ compliance and those who fail to fall in line are prosecuted.

Limassol is cheaper than Brighton

DESPITE THE spiraling cost of living on the island, it is still cheaper to holiday in Limassol than in Brighton, according to a recent study by Tesco Bank.

The study, which did not factor in the cost of transport to the local British destination or Cyprus, showed that a typical one-week holiday for a family of four in August, including accommodation, car hire, eating out and family entertainment would cost £1,739 (€2,150) in Limassol, and £2,209 (€2,733) in Brighton.

The cheapest destination was Sofia at £1,221 (€1,510), while the most expensive, Reykjavik, cost an eye watering £3,383 (€4,185).

John Howells, head of travel money at Tesco Bank, said holiday costs have been impacted by the euro exchange rate.

How the other half live

In terms of doing things in style, the Sultan of Brunei has a fleet of VIP aircraft, including two Gulfstream V, a Gulfstream IV, an Extended Range Boeing 767-200 and a Boeing 747-400. The enormously wealthy Sultan bought the 747 for around $100 million, and then spent another $120 million having it decorated with solid gold and crystal.

The Gulfstream G550 is the executive jet of choice for Turkey, Kuwait and Tanzania, among others. The Greek Air Force operates two Gulfstream G500s – equipped with anti-missile systems – for transporting government officials and VIPs.

Cultural spectacle to help sick child

A PHILANTHROPIC “demonstration of love” is being organised at the Dali Elementary School this Sunday by the support group for the family of critically ill four-year-old Pavlos Kleovolou.

Pavlos’ parents, Lambros and Yianna Kleovolou, who have three other children, are aiming to raise enough money to send their “little angel” for a year-long stay at Boston’s Children’s Hospital in the USA, where he can receive the specialised life saving treatment he needs, which they refer to as “the only hope for Pavlos’ life”.

Spanish band named after capital in island gig

A BAND named after the island’s capital will play its first gig here tomorrow night.

From Barcelona, Nikosia will play at the University of Nicosia in a charity concert to raise money for children in Africa.

According to Francesc Miralles, one of the founders of the band, the name first came to his attention when he was a student at the University of Barcelona and was good friends with a Cypriot who lived next door.

“The name was among five or six place names which we were considering as names for the band. We wanted a feminine name, as four of Nikosia’s members are women,” he said.

“I had visited Nicosia twice before the band formed and loved it,” he added. “The name is also symbolic as Nicosia is the last divided city in Europe.”

UK Minister: Turkey plays important role in Cyprus solution

BRITISH Minister for Europe David Lidington has stressed that Turkey has an important role to play in making progress towards a political settlement in Cyprus.

Lidington’s statement was included in a letter to the President of the National Federation of Cypriots in the UK Peter Drousiotis to thank him for his letter of congratulations on his appointment as a Minister for Europe.

The British Minister expresses his belief that “a settlement in Cyprus is in the best interests of both Cypriot communities and offers the best future for the island”.

He says that he is fully supportive of the efforts that Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu are making to a achieve a negotiated settlement.