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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 97-10-12

Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Sunday, October 12, 1997


  • [01] Russians freeze Cyprus Airways bank accounts
  • [02] Pilots 'deserting CA in droves'
  • [03] Policeman remanded as bomb suspect
  • [04] Damages for family of mum who bled to death
  • [05] 'Not yet ready for legal texts'
  • [06] Drug agent held, say police
  • [07] Moped rider killed
  • [08] Anatomy of a successful rescue
  • [09] Tourist killed in Paphos
  • [10] Yilmaz dismisses Russian warning

  • [01] Russians freeze Cyprus Airways bank accounts

    By Jean Christou

    THE RUSSIAN authorities have frozen the bank accounts of the Cyprus Airways Moscow office, the Cyprus Mail can reveal, and internal unrest at the airline's London offices is escalating.

    A CA spokesman confirmed the move by the Russian authorities, but said the action is only temporary and that the airline has not been targeted in any way which might suggest an illegality.

    Informed sources say the move by the Russians is in fact the result of administrative bungling by the airline relating to the registration of its Moscow offices, which it set up in 1994.

    The sources said when the airline opened in Moscow it had not completed the procedure to the letter and has now run into problems with its registration status.

    CA is currently forbidden to take any money out of Russia until the problem has been sorted. This forces it to keep large amounts of cash to carry out transactions and pay staff and overheads in the crime-ridden Russian capital.

    The CA spokesman admitted some questions have arisen over the status of its offices in Moscow. He said the airline registered as a trading company when it set up shop there, but it now appears its status has changed.

    He could not explain how or why before consulting with the company's financial experts, he said, and added that he was unaware of when the accounts had been frozen.

    "They (the Russians) want to clarify the status of the company and have frozen the accounts until this is done," the spokesman said.

    He added that temporarily freezing the accounts is standard practice during such procedures.

    The spokesman confirmed that in the meantime CA could not take any money out of the country but that the Moscow office's trade with the bank was continuing. "It's business as usual," he said.

    Meanwhile the airline's London office is in a state of internal upheaval because of prolonged industrial strife.

    In a letter to the Cyprus Mail the London staff say they have asked head office for an investigation into alleged nepotism and other suspect practices at the UK branch.

    In August we reported that staff had taken exception to a circular issued by management containing what they said were unacceptable demands relating to annual leave and sick days.

    Since then, they say, the manager still refuses to meet with them.

    They now accuse the London office of rampant nepotism and even claim the manager's secretary is chauffeur-driven to and from work daily.

    The staff have compiled a 10-part questionnaire which they say has been sent to the CA Board in Nicosia for answers.

    In it they allege that appointments at their offices were made secretly, without being advertised.

    "Can members of the Higher Management in the UK interview and appoint members of their own family (eg daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, son and other very close relatives) to positions without advertising the vacancies?" the questionnaire asks.

    The staff also suggest these people were appointed without having the necessary qualifications, and that they "command a very handsome salary".

    "Does Cyprus Airways, in Cyprus or anywhere else in the world, provide a personal chauffeur to the Manager's secretary on a daily basis to take her from home to work and vice versa?" another question asks, adding that the service is also extended to this woman's family.

    "We have lost faith and we no longer believe that our problem will ever be examined fairly by the management," the staff letter says.

    Contacted by the Cyprus Mail, the London manager said he was unaware of the questionnaire. "I have no problems with my staff," he added.

    CA Chairman Takis Kyriakides is abroad, but Group Chief Executive Demetris Pantazis said he was unaware of the existence of the questionnaire. Another official, who also denied any knowledge of the document, said: "This is not a serious issue." He did promise to look into it, however.

    Akel deputy Kikis Kazamias, who has an interest in CA affairs told the Cyprus Mail he had not heard of the alleged nepotism in the CA London office, but said he was aware that staff at the Athens office had faced similar problems in the past.

    The Cyprus offices have been accused of nepotism for years.

    Kazamias said he would be raising all the issues when CA again comes up for discussion at the House of Representatives.

    [02] Pilots 'deserting CA in droves'

    By Jean Christou

    CYPRUS Airways pilots are leaving the airline in droves because staff morale is at an all-time low, airline sources say.

    After a report in the Greek-language daily Alithia yesterday that Cypriot pilots are being lured away by foreign airlines, sources said yesterday "almost everyone" is looking for a new job.

    Alithia reported that the pilots from both CA and its charter firm Eurocypria were leaving en masse.

    Already five pilots have resigned or are in the process of doing so - two captains and one co-pilot from Cyprus Airways and a captain and co-pilot from Eurocypria.

    Among them is one of CA's most experienced training captains.

    In addition, the paper said, 30 of CA's 110 pilots and half of Eurocypria's 34 have made applications to foreign companies. More than 15 of these have already had interviews, it added.

    Cypriot pilots are seemingly in great demand as they are among the most experienced in the world in handling the Airbus aircraft.

    CA was one of the first companies in the world to have an Airbus fleet in the 1980s, which has given its pilots a head start over those in other companies as more airlines add the Airbus to their fleets.

    The jobs CA pilots are applying for, particularly with Middle East airlines, can offer double their present salaries - tax free - and include other perks such as house and car.

    The paper said their decision to move is also connected with the current unsettled situation within the cash-strapped airline.

    This was confirmed by pilots union Pasipy chief Spyros Mercouris, who said yesterday staff are worried over the continuous talk of financial insecurity. He also said employees are being undermined by management.

    Pilot sources said staff were dissatisfied with new chairman Takis Kyriakides, and accused him of not having "the slightest interest" in dialogue with the employees.

    "Almost everyone is now looking for a job somewhere else," the sources said. "There are so many other jobs available for Airbus pilots and people would rather work for a company where they can enjoy going to work."

    CA spokesman Tassos Angelis yesterday denied a mass exodus of pilots.

    He confirmed that a training pilot had left CA and was moving to the UK "for personal reasons" and that two Eurocypria pilots had asked for winter leave without pay to work at foreign airlines for a few months. "We are not worried," he said.

    [03] Policeman remanded as bomb suspect

    A NICOSIA police officer suspected of planting a bomb at a Pallouriotissa photographic shop was yesterday remanded for eight days.

    Nicos Charalambous has been suspended from his duties pending the outcome of the investigation.

    The 49-year-old officer was arrested on Friday night in connection with a bomb blast at the Klic Copy Centre shop which rocked the sleepy Nicosia suburb in the early hours of Monday morning. No one was injured in the explosion but shops in the area were damaged.

    Nicosia District Court heard yesterday that Charalambous was also suspected of making threatening phone-calls to the owner of the shop.

    [04] Damages for family of mum who bled to death

    By Martin Hellicar

    A COURT has awarded 46,200 in damages to the family of a mother who bled to death after giving birth at a Paphos clinic three years ago.

    The gynaecologist-owner of the Ygeia clinic, where 37-year-old Andria Dimou gave birth to her third son on October 10, 1994, was found guilty of negligence by the Paphos District Court.

    He was ordered to pay massive compensation to the family of the victim, who died in Paphos hospital four hours after childbirth of severe bleeding from a ruptured uterus.

    Andria, from Emba village outside Paphos, was rushed to hospital at 5pm, two hours after giving birth and after the clinic staff had failed to stem the bleeding.

    She died in surgery two hours later.

    Soon afterwards, her family sued the clinic owner for negligence.

    The 43-page court decision, revealed yesterday, noted that Andria's life could have been saved had the bleeding been diagnosed early enough.

    The then state pathologist Marios Matsakis, who carried out the post-mortem, said Andria might have lived had the baby been born in hospital.

    "Her chances of survival would have been considerably greater if this complication had occurred in a hospital and they did not have to transfer her," he said at the time.

    [05] 'Not yet ready for legal texts'

    THE GREEK Cypriot side is not ready to prepare legal texts for a Cyprus solution, President Clerides said yesterday.

    Speaking to journalists in Strasbourg at the close of the Council of Europe summit, he was responding to comments made on Thursday by Sir David Hannay, Britain's special envoy for Cyprus.

    Sir David said that further UN-brokered peace talks between the two sides wold concentrate on detailed legal texts concerning the constitution of a bi-zonal bi-communal federation.

    Clerides said the Turkish side has not given any commitment to prepare legal texts.

    "We are ready to express our views on all aspects of the Cyprus question, but we are not ready at present to prepare legal texts," he said.

    In the occupied areas, Sir David's comments came under fire from Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, who said the British envoy had "removed himself from his duties as a co-ordinator" by his latest comment.

    Denktash said Sir David had placed himself in the position of a judge when he declared the 1960 agreements for Cyprus' independence did not give Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots the right to prevent Cyprus joining the EU.

    Denktash also fired a broadside at two other foreign diplomats on the island.

    He said EU Ambassador Gilles Anouil had become "spoiled enough to reprove Turkish Cypriots for not recognising south Cyprus which was recognised by the whole world".

    Russian Ambassador Georgi Muratov also came under fire for comments that any strike by Turkey against Russian vessels bringing missile parts to Cyprus would be a cause for war.

    President Clerides said yesterday he welcomed Russia's stance.

    Referring to the announcement on Friday of a visit to Ankara today by US presidential envoy for Cyprus Richard Holbrooke, Clerides said the American diplomat had told him of the visit when the two met in New York last week.

    Holbrooke will not take in Athens and Nicosia on this trip.

    It was revealed yesterday the new State department Director of Southern European Affairs, Steven Mull, who replaced Carey Cavanaugh, arrived on the island Thursday for an unannounced two-day visit.

    [06] Drug agent held, say police

    POLICE believe they have the man who acted as the Dutch link for a gang smuggling huge quantities of marijuana into the country.

    Case investigator Andreas Vryonis told Larnaca District Court yesterday that a Nicosia man arrested on Thursday night in connection with the suspected drug trafficking had acted as the gang's `agent' in Holland.

    He said 25-year-old Kyriacos Constantinou, from Latsia near Nicosia, twice met Yeri villager Nicos Nicolaou in Amsterdam and gave him hashish to smuggle to Cyprus.

    Nicolaou, 20, was arrested at Larnaca airport on September 24 after arriving on a flight from Amsterdam. Police said seven and a half kilos of marijuana were found in his hand-luggage, a seizure they described as the largest ever of marijuana destined for the local market.

    Vryonis told the court police believed Nicolaou also brought about two kilos of marijuana into the country in late August - drugs he was again given by Constantinou in Holland.

    The latest investigation findings were presented to the court in an attempt to secure the re-remand of Nicolaou and two other men police say he has named as accomplices.

    Nicolaou, his fellow-villager Akis Afxentiou, 20, and 23-year-old Andreas Charalambous, from Latsia, were remanded for a further eight days.

    The remand hearing lasted six hours because presiding judge Michalis Christodoulou had to record the court transcripts himself as no stenographer was available.

    Vryonis told the court two and a half kilos of the marijuana confiscated from Nicolaou was to be given to Afxentiou and Charalambous, who had paid 1,900 for it. Police have refused to reveal the total street value of the September 24 haul.

    Two special policemen from Latsia, 31-year-old Loukas Kakouris and 24-year- old Andreas Flourentzou, are already being held as suspected ring-leaders. Both suspects, since axed from their police posts, served in Larnaca airport security and allegedly used their positions to `ease' the smuggling of hashish. Constantinou is also on remand.

    [07] Moped rider killed

    A YOUNG Iranian was killed in Limassol late on Friday night when his moped collided with a car after he failed to halt at a stop sign, police said yesterday.

    Police would not reveal the name of the victim yesterday, saying his family had not yet been informed.

    The accident happened at about 11pm when the victim was riding along Lesbos Street with another Iranian riding pillion, police said.

    When he came to the junction with Omirou Street, the victim ignored a stop sign and came out in front of a car driven by a young Cypriot, police said.

    The moped was hit by the car and the moped-driver was killed instantly. The man riding pillion was injured and was still in Limassol hospital yesterday, police said. The driver of the car was unhurt.

    Police are investigating.

    [08] Anatomy of a successful rescue

    By Jean Christou

    LAST week's fire aboard the Romantica was the first such accident in the East Mediterranean. Around 700 passengers and crew were successfully evacuated without injury or loss of life when the fire broke out on the Paradise-owned vessel's return voyage from Egypt.

    George Michaelides, Marketing Manager of Louis Cruise Lines, aboard whose ship the Princessa Victoria the Romantica passengers were taken, said that since 1980 there have been only seven or eight accidents aboard cruise vessels worldwide.

    Two of these accidents were caused by fire. None was in the Mediterranean, Michaelides said.

    "There have been (until now) absolutely no accidents on Cyprus-owned vessels," he said.

    "If you consider how many people travel and those killed it shows that cruises are one of the safest ways to travel and have holidays."

    Michaelides said there are many more accidents aboard ferry boats, and added that critics in Britain should take a look at their own record in this area.

    The incident on October 4 provoked a feeding frenzy among the British tabloids, with passengers telling a string of horror stories about the Romantica and raising questions about the rescue itself.

    Michaelides said many passengers had exaggerated what had happened. He said aboard the Victoria they were sunbathing and were fed by Louis and hadn't appeared unhappy.

    In addition to angry British passengers the Mail on Sunday last week quoted a travel agent as saying the quality of ships operating cruises from Cyprus is "mediocre".

    Compounding the criticism was the Times, quoting from the 1996 Berlitz Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships, which said the Romantica, built in 1939 in Hamburg and used a hospital ship during World War II, "should really be retired from service".

    "Its steep gang planks, crowded sundecks, patched up bathrooms, barely adequate food, small cabins and narrow passageways came in for criticism," the Times said. Berlitz concluded that the Romantica was "only for those wanting to cruise in the most basic of surroundings and comfort at a modest price".

    But experts believe the age of a cruise ship is never an issue, only its maintenance and upkeep. Both a Shipping Department official and Michaelides said that older ships are often better built. The Victoria, Michaelides said, was built in 1936, three years before Romantica and it still garners three stars in the 1997 Berlitz guide, compared to one star for the Romantica.

    One unfortunate tour operator in Britain had just switched from Louis to Paradise and issued one million new brochures featuring the Romantica.

    "Up until this year we were dealing with Louis but had earmarked Paradise for next year," said Themis Drakou of the UK-based Libra Travel.

    He said the British press had blown the whole situation out of all proportion, but that once bad publicity is aired it's very difficult to quash it. "All it takes is a small incident. There is a huge number of tourists in the cruise industry and now it (the industry) is not seen to be properly cared for with ships not up to scratch."

    Drakou criticised Paradise for its slow response to its clients. "There has been no apology," he said. "We need to get some feedback from them, some market exercises to put things right."

    Drakou said his company had taken a decision to promote cruising but has been knocked back first by the recent bombings in Israel, then Egypt and now the Romantica incident.

    "The accident had the potential for a huge loss of life. The fact it didn't was just fortunate," he said.

    But international shipping circles believe the successful rescue was more than just good luck.

    International Maritime Organisation (IMO) president William O'Neal, in Cyprus last week, called the rescue "superb".

    An editorial in last Tuesday's prestigious Lloyd's List shipping newspaper said: "Despite the published and broadcast complaints of the evacuees, the life-saving appliances appeared to have successfully been launched and while the weather was kind, 700 people did not get clear of a burning ship by accident, but by the exercise of a plan which appeared to have worked. Evidently the decision was taken to alert the passengers by word of mouth rather than by the use of the general alarm, but even that would have appeared to be a prudent measure."

    [09] Tourist killed in Paphos

    A 69-year-old British holidaymaker was run over by a car and killed in Paphos yesterday after he tripped over an ornamental roadside bush while trying to cross a road, police reported.

    Helen May Gore was about to cross Poseidonos Avenue in Kato Paphos at around 1.30pm when, according to police, she tripped over an oleander bush, fell into the road and was hit by a car. She was rushed to Paphos hospital but died of her injuries at 5.45pm.

    The driver of the car, a 40-year-old Paphos businessman, was unhurt.

    [10] Yilmaz dismisses Russian warning

    TURKISH Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz yesterday dismissed Russia's warning against Turkish threats to strike Russian ships carrying missile parts to Cyprus.

    He was commenting in Strasbourg on statements by Russian Ambassador to Nicosia Georgi Muratov that any attempt to do so would be a cause for war.

    Asked by the Cyprus News Agency how Turkey would respond to such a move from Russia, Yilmaz said casus belli "is something serious" and that "no country in the world would do it through an ambassador".

    At a press conference after the Council of Europe summit, Yilmaz warned that if the missiles are deployed on the island Europe would have a problem on its hands.

    He also said it would be impossible for Cyprus to join the EU until the Cyprus question is resolved.

    © Copyright 1997 Cyprus Mail

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