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Tales from the Coffeeshop: Covid police state comes unstuck

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A WEEK rarely goes by without the auditor-general Odysseas, Kyproulla’s self-proclaimed Elliot Ness, featuring in the news. He is second only to Prez Nik in the publicity race, in terms of air-time, cyberspace or column inches devoted to him, only because Nik enjoys an unfair advantage as the numero uno of the Republic.

He has developed a number of effective techniques for getting his name in the news, even though, he has recently adopted a new way of referring to himself, in order to silence those accusing him of unbridled self-promotion and show a little false modesty. He calls himself ‘the audit service’ and has also appointed a spokesman as his master’s voice.

The audit service has developed several techniques to make the headlines regularly. Apart from undertaking investigations into whatever issue in the news has attracted public attention, it also leaks reports to Phil, which serves as its unofficial mouthpiece. The boss of the audit service is also a regular guest star at House committee meetings, invited by opposition deputies who use him as their ballistic missile against the government. He also has his personal twitter account which he uses for his shit-stirring.

What is his motivation? A desperate need for public attention, self-glorification, presidential ambitions, the urge to always come out on top, to help Diko’s election campaign, to rid Kyproulla of corruption (as long as Diko is left out of it), to win parental approval? I do not have the answer, but it could be any or all of the above.

 

ON THURSDAY Odysseas decided to revive the golden passports row as it had been out of the news for a couple of weeks. At the House watchdog committee, he declared that certain citizenship applications were being evaluated with the old criteria rather than with those that came into effect last August.

He did not accept the attorney-general’s view that the criteria used were those in force when the application had been submitted and said five citizenships to executives of the Ayia Napa marina were granted illegally – at least based on his interpretation of the law. He also announced that he would investigate another 221 citizenship cases, again disregarding the AG’s request to wait until the official investigation is completed.

Despite having no law qualifications, Odysseas believes he has the authority and legal expertise to overrule the AG and declare his opinion and advice invalid. For as long as his friend and ally, Costas Clerides was in the post, he always deferred to the AG, but now there is someone else in the post that does not pander to him, he has decided the AG’s opinion is worthless and must be ignored.

It appears the audit service has granted itself the power to overrule all the state officials that stand in the way of its omniscient boss.

 

ODYSSEAS did not show his Eliot Ness qualities when he received reports of big irregularities at the Cyprus Symphony Orchestra from the board’s vice chairman Mikis Kosteas back in 2016.

He admitted at the House watchdog committee that he had not investigated the reports about the unlawful way in which the finite contract given to the artistic director of the youth symphony orchestra Giorgos Kountouris, was of unlimited duration.

There were other irregularities reported by Kosteas – Kountouris would be given the conductor’s job of the symphony orchestra, by its artistic director Alkis Baltas, while Kountouris gave work worth thousands of euro at the youth orchestra to Baltas’ wife – which the audit service did not consider worth investigating. It finally carried out the investigation in 2020, but at a snail’s pace, on the pretext that the symphony orchestra did not provide the service with information it requested.

Could the audit service’s reluctance to investigate have had something to do with the fact that Kountouris is a close buddy of the Diko leader, who has also put him on the Diko ballot for the parliamentary elections? Perhaps his inclusion is intended to attract the Russian vote, as Kountouris had served as the president of the Russian party I Citizen.

Incidentally, Kountouris’ contract was, reportedly, made ‘indefinite’ on the advice of the symphony orchestra’s legal advisor, the Tassos Papadopoulos Law Office, which, it must be made clear, has nothing to do with the Diko leader.

 

PREZ NIK may have spoken too soon in boasting that Cyprus “is one of the countries with a successful vaccine programme.” On the very day he said this, the jab portal, crashed minutes after it opened because of the heavy traffic. It had been opened for people over 61 years of age and big number of them went in at the same time in the hope of not being left with appointments only for the AstraZeneca vaccine.

When the portal reopened in the afternoon only AZ appointments were available and nobody booked them. Thousands of vaccines were left unclaimed so the government lowered the age group on Friday to over 59s and over 60s. On Saturday the portal was opened for over 58s with an abundance of the AZ vaccine available.

There appeared to be some weird goings-on in the booking of appointments. One person, who called the Gesy helpline shortly after failing to get a Pfizer appointment was told by the woman answering the phone that she had managed to book two Pfizer appointments for friends of her’s! Another person, meanwhile, who failed to get a Pfizer appointment was notified that she had one as her personal doctor had pre-booked 60 Pfizer appointments for his patients.

You could not have a successful vaccine programme without a little preferential treatment. As for the AZ vaccines that nobody wants, we will have no trouble selling them for a big profit, thus making the programme profitable as well as successful. Perhaps we could include a free vaccine to applicants for citizenship as a marketing ploy.

 

THE COVID police state came unstuck a few days ago when it was reported that tourists would not have to secure SMS authorisation to leave their hotels.

They would simply use a document prepared by the Hotel Association and ACTA which states, “movement is only permitted from 06:00 to 23:00 in line with the restrictions of movement imposed by the Ministry of Health, and destination protocols.”

When the document was published and it became apparent that only the natives would require state authorisation to move around, the government realised its blunder. The deputy ministry, which had initially agreed with the use of this document so as not to inconvenience tourists, changed tuned claiming that tourists would be subject to the same restrictions on movement as locals.

As if any tourist would come for a holiday to country in which they could leave their hotel only twice a day and only “for a reasonable amount of time.” Of course, the tourists would be given preferential treatment, but the deputy ministry had to lie about it, to avoid a rebellion by the oppressed natives that are still expected to use the SMS system.

A hotel executive informed our establishment yesterday that hotels have been told to issue the document to their guests so they can move freely, without the risk of being fined by police. The health ministry has decreed that document also works like a vaccine, as it prevents the holders from spreading the virus.

 

I AM HAPPY to note that the covid police state has not yet crushed the human spirit with its repressive measures. Its Covid-tracer app has proved a complete flop, with only 15,000 people alarmed into downloading on to their mobile phones.

The deputy minister of research, innovation and digital policy has been complaining that the small number of people with app make the initiative ineffective. Some 200,000 people need to have the app to make it achieve its purpose of spying on us and monitoring who we come into contact with. It is another violation of our liberty, in the name of public health, but people are not buying it. There is hope for us yet. And we can soon get round the SMS joke as well, by carrying a tourist free pass document and telling the cops ‘I am a tourist’.

 

TWO WEEKS ago we had written about the abusive comments against Disy chief Averof Neophytou, written by Phil’s moralising columnist Michalis Ignatiou. The offending piece was taken off the Philenews website on the order of the news group’s boss Nikos Pattichis, who subsequently sent the following message to all staff.

“For as long as I remember, never have such hostile, yellow comments been written – and published in Phil – by a permanent columnist of ours. Vile blows below the belt, condescending abusiveness – I was really ashamed when I read them – this is not the Phileleftheros we are proud to serve! I will not tolerate for anyone of us to be carried away by the currents of our era….”

I doubt the sanctimonious Ignatiou will be referring to Averof as a ‘karagiozis’ in his column ever again.

 

IF PROOF were needed to support the view that the brains of the covid police state – the members of the scientific dream team – were glorying in their celebrity status all you have to do is look at the latest edition of the lifestyle mag ‘Must’. On its cover is member of the dream team, and daily guest on radio shows Dr Zoe Dorothea Pana.

She is interviewed and is presented more like a glamorous model than an epidemiologist. She is photographed in four different outfits having obviously undergone all the necessary styling. Dr Pana looks at her best in the tight-fitting white sleeveless dress, her gold locks over one shoulder, and is extremely comfortable posing for the camera.

She could have had a career on the catwalk rather than in a smelly lab checking out microbes and wasting her time on radio shows telling us to wear a face mask.

 

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