The fallout from the disappearance of the alleged Russian paymaster who skipped bail from the Mediterranean island of Cyprus continues. There is now some sort of circular firing squad going on over there.
The country’s English newspaper, Cyprus Mail calls it “the blunder everyone foresaw, except the judge.” In its Tale from the Coffeeshop, the newspaper also writes, “even by our own high standards of incompetence, what happened was absolutely incredible.”
Wow! That’s a tad harsh, huh? But — Attorney-General Petros Clerides said yesterday that press reports linking the escape of alleged spy fugitive Christopher Robert Metsos to Cyprus’ close relationship with Moscow were “completely unfounded.”
Which means —baseless, groundless, unwarranted, or without basis in reason or fact …
THE furore sparked by the escape from Cyprus of a man said to be one of Russia’s most capable spies has intensified with authorities rejecting a request to hand over his personal effects to the FBI.
A laptop computer and several USB memory sticks confiscated from Christopher Metsos, a Canadian citizen believed to be the paymaster of an espionage ring in the US, should remain with local police, the Attorney-General decreed.”They will stay with us for the time being, and not be given to US authorities,” police spokesman Christos Savvides told The Age. ”The laptop is currently being investigated.”[…]The ruling by Attorney-General Petros Clerides will add to the disappointment already expressed by the US State Department over a court’s surprising decision to release the suspect on bail. There have been thinly disguised accusations that Cyprus’s communist-backed government colluded with Russia’s secret service to allow the operative’s escape.President Demetris Christofias, the son of a construction worker who was educated in Moscow, has made no secret of his deep affection for fellow Orthodox Russia, a country Greek Cypriots have long looked to for support in reuniting the war-divided island.Under his stewardship, Cyprus has made moves to deepen ties with Russia, the biggest private investor on the island and increasingly its most important ally internationally. About 20,000 Russians have settled in Cyprus since communism collapsed, with a growing number of oligarchs electing to live there.[…]As a manhunt was being launched for Metsos last Thursday, Mr Christofias was hosting a glittering reception for the arrival in Cyprus of Gazprombank, Russia’s second largest financial institution. At another cocktail party, Justice Minister Loucas Louca let slip that the agent had ”bizarrely” withdrawn €26,000 ($A38,500), the exact amount required for his bail.”The only thing we didn’t do was give the guy a passport,” opined the Cyprus Mail, the island’s English language daily. ”Let’s face it, the comrade president has never made a secret of where his allegiances lie … we are behaving a bit like a Russian satellite state in the Mediterranean.”[…]Metsos’ arrival – and disappearance – have added to the intrigue and also reinforced Cyprus’s reputation as a ”sunny place for shady people”.