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Tales from the Coffeeshop: Mother Russia loses her shine in Kyproulla

people hold banners as they take part in a demonstration against russia's invasion of ukraine, in nicosia
People hold banners as they take part in a demonstration against Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Nicosia on Saturday (Reuters)

A FEW days was all that was needed for Moscow to lose the tight hold it had over Kyproulla for six decades, as the natives, seeing what was happening in Ukraine started questioning the official mythology about virtuous and principled Russia that was served to them, for years and years, by politicians, priests and journalists.

Traditionally staunch supporters of mother Russia and West-bashers, like Phil and the Cybc, sensing a big swing in public sentiment have changed their editorial line, taking a clear stand against Russia’s war in Ukraine. They make the point that Nato is also to blame, like Edek and Akel have done, and mention the West’s double standards in relation to Cyprus, but their coverage, is against the war.

I was taken aback one morning this week when a Cybc presenter brazenly asked Akel chief, Comrade Stef Stef if the view about Russia taking stands on principle had been debunked. He fudged his answer not wanting to agree with such a subversive idea.

Phil, meanwhile, published articles slamming Vladimir Putin, something it had never done before, and even carried a critical comment against Ambassador Stanislav Osadchiy, whom it had always treated with slavish respect, for his arrogant comments on a TV interview. As Bob Dylan sang, The Times They Are A-changing.

 

AMBASSADOR Stan’s interview on Sigma TV on Monday, helped turn public opinion. His arrogance and patronising attitude towards the natives, which he displayed throughout the seven or eight years of his posting, angered people.

Suddenly they were not prepared to have him acting like the governor of a Russian province, didactically telling them what is good for them. Social media was flooded with comments asking who he thought he was and telling him to take a hike (in ruder language).

“You shot yourself in the foot,” Stan said, about the closing of our airspace to Russian aircraft, in line with the EU decision. “How will Cyprus have Russian tourists? They won’t come. They will go to Turkey. Is that what you want? They will spend their money there,” said Stan, informing the dumb natives what their interest were.

He did not advise us to take a principled stand against military invasion as Russia has always done in the case of Kyproulla. Only it never has and Stan proved it during the interview. “The Soviet Union was the first to condemn the invasion in Cyprus,” he said on Sigma TV. He omitted to use the adjective ‘Turkish’ because the Soviet Union never condemned the Turkish invasion. For the record, the USSR only condemned the coup which it referred to as the ‘Greek invasion.’

 

THE FORMER Soviet stooges – ‘useful idiots’ as the Soviets used to refer to them – of the Pancyprian Peace Council, held a demonstration in Eleftheria Square, against the war last Sunday. Also there, were a few hundred Ukrainians living in Cyprus brandishing their country’s flags and protesting against the war.

They must have been surprised hearing the Cypriot demonstrators, who a week earlier protested at the British base in Akrotiri for fear its planes would be sent to Ukraine, chanting slogans against western imperialism and Nato. You’d think it was Nato that was bombing Ukrainian cities.

On Tuesday a demo against the war was held outside the Russian embassy in Nicosia, but the professional protesters of the Pancyprian Peace Council were absent. They did not want to offend Russia, which revived the World Peace Council after the collapse of the Soviet Union, to promote President Putin’s message of world peace.

 

FEBRUARY was a bad month for our prospective presidential couple, as nothing went their way. First, Mrs Philippa Karsera, who ran the foreign ministry as if it were her personal empire was relieved of her title as acting director of the General Secretariat of European Affairs, which she had turned into a super-ministry, controlling all dealings with the EU.

Her new boss, Ioannis Kasoulides, took her little empire away from her, as he appointed minister plenipotentiary, Louis Tilemachou as director of the Secretariat. To add insult to injury, she is now answerable to a man who does not share her hawkish mindset on the Cyprob which views all dealings with the EU as a battle to defend the Republic.

Worse still, for the presidential couple’s ambitions was the war in Ukraine which saw a big swing in public sentiment against Russia, radically restricting the influence it has over the natives. The former foreign minister was relying on capitalising on this influence, in his campaign, but it has now become a poisoned chalice.

On a more positive note, the ambitious Paphite, last week opened his political office on Demosthenis Severis Street, the street on which the presidential palace is located, so he does not have to walk far on the night of the elections.

 

THE PUBLIC crying about the consequences of the war and sanctions on our economy has become rather tiresome and irritating. I just can’t bear to hear the self-pitying rants by hoteliers of Ayia Napa and Protaras, who are distraught because there will be no tourists from Russia and Ukraine this year.

It is in rather bad taste, considering what the Ukrainian people are going through, for us to complain that we will not make enough money this summer because of the war. Some are even suggesting that we ask the EU that it allows us to open our airspace to Russian aircraft, because otherwise hoteliers’ profits would suffer.

Spare a thought also for the island’s accountants, probably greedier than the hoteliers, whose association, Selk, issued an announcement last Sunday telling us that financial services could suffer from the dramatic developments in Ukraine. Selk, however, was “monitoring developments and especially the economic implications of the crisis in order to safeguard the interests of the Cyprus Republic and its members.”

Accountants will join the hoteliers when they apply to the government for the minimum guaranteed income this summer.

 

THE OFFICERS at the Ledra Palace checkpoint seem to be competing for the medal of patriotic rudeness when dealing with Turkish Cypriots. A young Turkish Cypriot experienced this patriotic rudeness, in all its glory, on two occasions recently.

A few weeks ago, he went to the checkpoint and because there was a queue at the ‘Turkish Cypriots’ window he went to the other window that was serving no-one and gave his Cyprus ID. After a brief look, the cop told him the ID was ‘Turkish Cypriot’ so he had to go to the other window.

The young man, pointed out to the cop that under ‘nationality’ his ID had the word ‘Cypriot’, nowhere mentioning ‘Turkish Cypriot’. The cop gave the ID back telling the man that he could only cross by going to the window marked ‘Turkish Cypriots’ and if he did not, he could go back.

The young man insisted the ID clearly stated ‘Cypriot’ making no distinction. He did not know that our patriotic officers at the checkpoint do not tolerate lip from TCs. The woman at the window for TCs flipped her lid and started shouting at him, telling him either he showed her his ID or he could back home.

He showed her the and ID crossed.

 

A WEEK later the young man was at the checkpoint with a friend and he went to the TC window to avoid the hassle of the last time. His friend gave his Turkish Cypriot ID, test result and vaccination card and went through. When he provided the same documents to the woman at the desk, the officer sitting next to her (he was on duty week earlier), she asked for his Cyprus ID.

When he told her that he could go through with his Turkish Cypriot ID, as his friend had done a minute earlier, she started shouting at him and said, ‘Now I want your father’s ID number to let you cross.’ The young man told her, calmly that she could not do this and he knew his rights, which resulted in all the agents in the glass office shouting at him and demanding he showed his Cyprus ID.

As the cops kept shouting, and not wanting to delay his friend, the young man showed his Cyprus ID to the angry woman, who checked it on the computer, then threw it back to him and told him, ‘hassiktir,’ a Turkish swear word, that Greek Cypriots use, wrongly, as an equivalent to ‘F*** off.’

 

SHOCKED by this rudeness, he asked to speak to her supervisor, at which she laughed and shouted ‘ela ree supervisor.’ A cop came out, went close to the TC and, shouting, told him ‘if you don’t leave now, I will arrest you.’

We do not know which of the two will be nominated for the patriotic rudeness medal – the woman who swore at the second-class citizen for demanding a little politeness, or the officer that threatened to arrest him for complaining about the swearing?

 

AT 9.45AM on Friday, 150 public radio channels all over the world, including Rik Proto, Deftero and Trito, broadcast John Lennon’s song Give Peace a Chance, in order to persuade Mr Putin to withdraw his troops and stop the war in Ukraine.

The song, released at the height of the love and peace movement in 1969, during Lennon’s hippy phase, became an anthem of the American anti-war movement and the hippies opposed to the war in Vietnam. It is now enjoying a second coming, as had that other embarrassing Lennon, hippy song Imagine, some years ago.

Interestingly, the title of probably the funniest book written by P. J. O’Rourke, the right-wing American satirist, who passed away a few weeks ago, and whom we featured in last week’s offering, was a piss-take of the Lennon song. It was titled, Give War a Chance, with the explanation, “Eyewitness accounts of mankind’s struggle against tyranny, injustice and alcohol-free beer”

On the subject of P. J, here is another quote, that I did not include last week. “Liberals have invented whole college majors – psychology, sociology and women’s studies – to prove that nothing is anybody’s fault.”

 

THE AID collected by Kyproulla for the people of Ukraine was apparently the biggest ever in the history of the country. The quantities of food and medicine collected would fill 15 shipping containers, it was reported. It might be an idea not to send all of them. We should keep three or four containers in Cyprus to help out the our own victims of the war – hoteliers and accountants

 

 

 

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