Ruling Disy took a swipe at main opposition Akel on Saturday for planning a demo to protest the ‘loss of Cyprus’ credibility’ in the wake of the Pandora Papers, by pointing out that it was Akel who conferred citizenship on the Russian man linked to the revelations.
Disy said in a statement that it was Akel’s interior minister Neoclis Sylikiotis that had suggested naturalising the Russian man mentioned in the Pandora Papers, who was a customer of the president’s former law firm.
The statement was issued after Akel’s top brass and former interior minister Sylikiotis said that his party was to organise a protest next week “to defend our country’s dignity and the rule of law” in the wake of the European Parliament’s (EP) resolution that chastised a number of EU politicians who have featured in the Pandora Papers, including President Nicos Anastasiades. Disy said that Akel “has a short memory”.
The ruling party said Akel should think before it speaks and reminded them of their role in giving a Cypriot passport to Leonid Lebedev, client of the law firm bearing the president’s name and whose companies are mentioned in the Pandora Papers.
“What they forget is that the minister who took the suggestion to cabinet for the man in question to be naturalised as Cypriot, was Mr Sylikiotis, who was the Minister of Interior in the Christofias government,” Disy said.
The party wondered if Akel supporters would also be protesting that Sylikiotis had given the businessman a Cypriot passport.
Earlier in the day Sylikotis had said that the reference to Anastasiades in the EP resolution was another, strong slap to the credibility of the country and called on the president to resign.
After Disy’s jibe, Akel hit back that the reason Anastasiades was mentioned in the Pandora Papers was not because of Lebedev’s passport but because the law firm bearing the president’s name, had as a client the Russian who is accused of money laundering since 2015.
“That is why the international media call him ‘the offshore President’,” Akel said.
Anastasiades has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing after the law firm he founded was accused of hiding the assets of the former Russian senator behind fake beneficial owners in a secret report filed with financial regulators in the British Virgin Islands.