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Tales from the coffeeshop: Who is really in charge in Cyprus?

ΠτΔ – Εγκαίνια Περιφερειακού Μουσ
Tied up in knots. President Nikos Christodoulides is locked in a war of words with the audit office

NOBODY knows what our Prez did to the deity-general Odysseas to excuse the latter’s manic efforts to wreck poor old Nik II’s carefuly cultivated image as the guy most parents would like to have as a son-in-law.

Our holier than thou supreme ruler has been on a mission to make the life of Nik II hell ever since he was elected. First, he reported the appointment of advisors who did not satisfy all the criteria he had set, then he censured the unlawful payments that were being made to the acting government spokeswoman Doxa Komodromou and then he asserted that the prez was breaking the rules by having his daughters being driven to school in a state car by members of his security detail.

This week he decided to expose the poor Paphite’s penchant for penny-pinching while serving as acting government spokesman between 2014 and 2018, and demanding the return to the state of some of the money received through the bending of the rules. According to Odysseas, Nik II was paid double the per diem rate he was entitled to when travelling abroad (€40K instead of €20K), was paid €18K for holidays he was owed, although the documentation did not exist and was subsequently completed. He also owed money for mileage he was paid for his personal car (€39K) half of which was not for official use.

In a fit of generosity, Odysseas said Nik II did not have to return the €157,000 in excess salaries he was paid those four years, as the Nik I government had approved the monthly overpayments.

 

WE CAN only speculate about the supreme ruler’s motives in going for Nik. It could be that the Prez failed to promote Odysseas’ sister – the beneficiary of staggering rusfeti that the audit office somehow missed – to the post of permanent secretary that she was angling for.

It could be that he is preparing the ground for standing in the 2028 elections by discrediting the incumbent who is certain to seek another term. He would stand as the Mr Clean candidate that will drain the swamp and get rid of the prez who had been mercilessly milking the taxpayer when he was a public parasite.

Another explanation is that he is asserting his authority, showing the meek, confrontation-shy Paphite who the real boss of Kyproulla is. The strange thing is that he never did this when the nasty Nik I was in charge. In fact, all the investigations he carried out into Nik I were blatant whitewashes. Was this because he was waiting for the appointment of his sister to a top position in the civil service?

 

THE BIG surprise was that our Prez, despite his congenital aversion to confrontation, hit back, warning Odysseas that he had the power to finish him.

Not only did he accuse him of abuse of power and violating personal data, he said the government was also considering reporting him for these offences to the supreme court, which is apparently the only body that can terminate the Odysseas-general. For now, he referred the matter to the attorney-general.

Meanwhile, the government’s different spokesmen have been having a go at Odysseas. Even the usually timid Mini Me went on the offensive on Friday taking swipes at Odysseas, while insisting the government had nothing against him, which was a blatant lie.

These attacks had an effect and Odysseas felt obliged to issue a long statement on Saturday reminding the government that he does not tolerate any form of criticism. He was “disappointed” that the director of the Prez’s press office was talking in a “demeaning and offensive” way about the audit office.

“With sorrow we are observing the orchestrated, ongoing effort of the representatives of the government to undermine the audit service, from the moment the administration of the presidency received a draft of our announcement about the allowances and benefits which the current President of the Republic illegally received as a civil servant between 2014 and 2018,” he said.

 

IN HIS announcement, Odysseas also revealed who wears the trousers in the presidential family, mentioning that Mrs PKC did not allow his minions to enter the presidential palace’s private quarters to check the furniture that had been bought for the family’s needs at a cost of 100 grand to the taxpayer. The presidency had agreed a time for the visit with the audit service, said Odysseas, but it had obviously not consulted Mrs PKC.

It must have been the Missus that ordered the Prez’s men to go on the offensive because when asked on Saturday about the attacks, Nik II said, “I do not adopt, nor have I ever adopted such practices.” The orders to Mini Me, Victoras et al must have come from someone and if it was not from the Prez, it must have been from the one who wears the trousers.

Will Mrs PKC carry on the undermining of Odysseas that her other half does not adopt? He could stop her, because he will not want to be seen to be at odds with our prime corruption-buster. The wily Odysseas has already set the terms of the battle in which there can only be one winner.

“The service which in every country is considered the flagship of the effort to eliminate corruption, in Cyprus is on the receiving end of an unprecedented attempt to undermine it.”

coffeee2
Heroic: Apoel’s Prodromos Petrides

YOU HAVE to admire the chutzpah of Prodromos Petrides, the president of Apoel, the football club with debts in excess of €30 million that it can never repay, holding a news conference to beg supporters for money because it needed to raise €2m by the end of the month.

The insolvent club will hold a virtual match for which the ticket would be €20 and the aim would be for 23,000 idiots to buy one so the non-match is ‘sold out’. That would raise €430,000, while the second ingenious plan is to find 500 wealthy Apoel supporters, presumably of low intelligence, to donate €3,000 each.

What sane person would give even a euro to Petrides and his board, under whose stewardship the club amassed debts of €35m and is technically bankrupt? For some time now the board claimed it was searching for an investor, as if it was possible to find an idiot to invest tens of millions that he would have zero chance of ever recouping.

 

ADDING a touch of real heroism to the search for an investor, Petrides said “there were even times when our lives were in danger.” They had gone to the Ukraine warzone after they had been told there was a potential investor there. “We chose to travel to Ukraine for Apoel to live even if it meant we would not live in the end.”

In the end they did not sacrifice their lives for Apoel, while the search for an investor continues. But the club would not accept any investor. “We want him to be clean. We do not want an investor that would launder money,” which may explain why they put their lives at risk and went to the Ukraine warzone looking for an investor.

 

OUR GOVERNMENT’S prayers for the appointment of a special envoy for the UN Secretary-General have, at long last, been answered.

The person who got the short straw at the UN was Maria Angela Holguin Cuellar, a former foreign minister of Colombia (there’s a country Petrides could find an investor for Apoel). She was also the head of the Colombian mission to the UN.

Within 24 hours of her name being announced, prominent lawyer Chris Triantafyllides had an explanation as to why the Turkish side had not objected to her appointment. He tweeted:

“In 2015, as foreign minister of Colombia she took a position in favour of Azerbaijan, an absolute Turkophile country, in the war with Armenia. In 2018, leaving the foreign ministry, she praised Turkey as a country. Unfortunately, we do not have the mettle to do as the Turkish side had done, and say we do not approve the appointment…”

Triantafyllides forgot to mention she also likes ekmek kateif, which would have strengthened his argument and proved beyond reasonable doubt that she is a Turkophile.

 

KING of Kyproulla’s Twiterrati, Jho Low, suggested we nominated Nik I for the OCCRP’s ‘Person of the Year’ title, which is awarded to the individual considered to have excelled in the corruption stakes. Candidates are nominated by journalists and the public while the decision is taken by a panel of journos.

Past winners have been Yevgeny Prigozhin (2022), Aleksandr Lukashenko (2021) and Jair Bolsonaro (2020). I suspect it is too late to nominate our Nik, even though we would have had a much better chance of winning this than the Eurovision Song Contest.

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