|Sunday, 26 January 2020|
Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation: News in English, 00-01-24
From: The Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation at <http://www.cybc.com.cy/>
MONDAY 24 JANUARY 2000
 HEADLINESThe furore over the government-proposed Zakaki desalination plant continues;
An altercation breaks out between Cyprus' two major political parties;
Two Lebanese nationals arrested in Limassol yesterday are believed to be members of an international drug-trafficking ring;
Turkey's president concedes that certain state security agencies may have overstepped their powers;
Russian aircraft continue to pound Grozny, while close-quarter combat in the city's streets resumes;
Croatians go the polls in presidential elections;
The Cyprus Stock Exchange experiences a slow start to the week;
A Spanish goat luckily gets out of being tossed from a height of 15 metres.
 DESALINATION/ZAKAKIGovernment plans to set up a water desalination plant near the Limassol district village of Zakaki continue to draw fire, with MP's Marios Matsakis and Stelios Stylianou unleashing varied degrees of criticisism against Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Costas Themistokleous.
Democratic Party MP Matsakis, speaking on CyBC's Third Radio Channel this morning, openly charged the minister of an amateurish approach to the matter, of having no concrete plans in mind and resorting to tricks and blackmail under the pretext that Limassol will be left without water. He also called on the minister to resign, given what he termed "a disastrous failure".
Democratic Rally MP Stylianou, while also criticising the minister, adopted a more placid approach, supporting the government's policy on ways of dealing with the island's water problem. He did however describe as "grossly misleading and unacceptable" the minister's allusion that if the Zakaki desalination plant is not built, Limassol will be without water for two-and-a-half years.
On his part, Minister Themistokleous rejected all criticism that the government was one-sided in its approach, saying that it was only after a number of alternative proposals were studied that the controversial decision to construct the plant at Zakaki was taken.
 DISY VS AKELDemocratic Rally Chairman Nikos Anastassiades was this morning quoted by a private radio channel in Nicosia as saying that a sum of five million pounds was illegally transferred from the Cyprus Co-operative Movement to the coffers of the left-wing AKEL party.
The statement comes in the midst of an altercation between Mr Anastassiades and AKEL MP Kikis Kazamias, Chairman of the Cyprus Co-operative Movement, over the recent entry into the Cyprus Stock Exchange of the movement's daughter company, Demetra, and accusations of an MP having vested interests in the bourse.
Commenting on the Democratic Rally Chairman's allegation, AKEL Secretary-General Demetris Christophias described it as "totally beyond the realm of reality", and openly questioned the right-wing party chairman's motives.
Meanwhile, Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou, in answer to a relevant question, stated that the government has already voiced its opinion on the matter and does not wish to become involved. In closing, Mr Papapetrou noted that such altercations are only natural in democratic regimes, but stressed that they are completely out of place at times such as the present, when the Cyprus Issue is going through a critical phase.
 DRUG RINGThe two Lebanese nationals remanded in custody yesterday on charges of drug possession are believed to be members of an international trafficking ring distributing illegal substances to individuals in Cyprus.
The search for local collaborators is continuing, while Police are also in contact with Interpol's Lebanon branch, in order to exchange information and co-ordinate efforts.
The two were arrested after being found in possession of 250 grammes of heroin.
 TURKEY ISLAMISTSTurkish President Suleyman Demirel late last night denied suggestions that the state had secretly backed Islamist guerrillas suspected of killing dozens of people found buried across the country, but conceded that some state security agencies might have overstepped their powers.
Quoted by Anatolian News Agency, he said: "The state does not commit murders or have murders carried out," and added "There may be forces belonging to the state acting illegitimately, but they are committing a crime...The first duty of the state is to eliminate them."
The total number of corpses discovered since last week, when the operation against Turkey's Islamist militant Hizbullah group began, stands, at the latest count, at 31.
Meanwhile, Turkish Police today stepped up investigations in the central city of Konya, where newspapers cited Hizbullah testimony to police as indicating that as many as 100 bodies may be found.
 CHECHNYARussian strike aircraft and helicopter gunships hit targets in the Chechen capital of Grozny at dawn today, while it's being reported that troops and rebels have resumed close-quarter combat in the streets of the beleaguered city.
Interfax news agency quoted military sources in Mozdok, Russia's main regional army base, as saying that battles are raging throughout Grozny, with the fiercest fighting focused around the central Minutka Square and a key railway bridge.
Minutka, site of severe clashes during the 1994-96 war which led to Moscow's withdrawl from the region, is just a few minutes drive from the centre of Grozny. The bridge over the Sunzha River is a major link between two parts of the city.
Interfax said fixed-wing aircraft and helicopter gunships, defying bad weather, flew more than 160 sorties in the last 24 hours, almost double their usual rate over the last months. The raids were directed against rebel positions in Grozny and in the south.
It is now one week since Russian troops launched their second wave of concerted attacks against Grozny. Their first attempt to take the besieged city collapsed under stiff resistance from the rebels.
 CROATIA ELECTIONCroatians are today casting their votes in presidential elections that look certain to bury the late Franjo Tudjman's nationalist policies and help end the young country's international isolation.
Charismatic centrist Stipe Mesic has emerged in opinion polls as the surprise favourite to succeed Tudjman, with 37% of the popular support. His main rival, Liberal leader Drazen Budisa has 24%, while outgoing Foreign Minister Mate Granic, who has sought to distance himself from Tudjman's HDZ party, has 13%.
All three men say they are moderates, have pledged to work with the United Nations War Crimes Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and have vowed not to meddle in Bosnian politics. They have also all agreed to limit the huge powers of the presidency.
Of the two main contenders however, neither appears on course to win an absolute majority, meaning that they will almost certainly have to face each other in a second round run-off on February 7th.
Polling stations across Croatia opened at 0600 GMT and will close at 1800 GMT. First results are not expected much before midnight GMT.
 CSEActivity at the Cyprus Stock Exchange was slightly down today, with the general price index closing at 637 as compared to Friday's 644, a drop of seven units.
A decrease was also observed in today's volume of trading, which barely reached 17-and-a-half million pounds. The volume of trading at the end of last week was 22 million.
 PONTIAC TRADITIONAn allegedly Pontiac Greek custom of kidnapping prospective brides didn't go down too well with Cyprus police, who last night placed four men in custody.
Four ethnic Greeks from the Black Sea region were cooling off in detention cells this morning, after bundling a young woman into their car yesterday in a central street of Nicosia. She was found unharmed later in the day.
According to the police report, the woman, also a Pontiac Greek, spurned the advances of one of the suspects, but he wouldn't take no for an answer. Commenting on the incident, a police spokesman said "We were told this is a custom from where they come from. Here it's kidnapping."
 TAILERToday's tailer takes us to the northern Spanish village of Manganeses de la Solorosa, where this year's "Jump of the Goat", a decades-old practice in which a goat is hurled from the 15-metre high village church belfry onto a canvas sheet below, was not performed after local officials, heeding the calls of animal rights activists, threatened the participants with fines of up to two-and-a-half million pesetas (or 15 thousand dollars) each.
Still, some 2,000 people, many of them drunk on wine, gathered in the streets of the village to see what would happen. Youths did bring a brown goat to the front of the church, only to tell the crowd that they would only go through with the ritual if others paid their fines. No one took up the offer, and the goat hurling was cancelled. There had been rumours that revellers would use a stuffed goat, but participants said that would have been unmanly.
The ritual was officially banned in 1992 by the governor of the Zamora province, but villagers reacted so violently when police tried to stop them that it was soon reinstated.
 WEATHERPartly cloudy skies are forecast for this afternoon, with rain expected throughout the island, as well as snow over the mountains. Winds will be moderate southwesterlies, 4-5BF, on moderate seas, while temperatures are not expected to exceed 14C inland, 16C along the coasts and 4C at higher altitudes.
Rain, as well as snow over the mountains, are once again forecast for this evening, while winds will continue moderate, blowing from the southwest at 4BF, on moderate seas. Temperatures will drop to 6C inland, 8C in coastal regions and 1C on the higher reaches of the Troodos mountains.
The generally unsettled weather conditions are expected to continue until Wednesday.
The depth of snow on Mount Olympus is 40cm, and 35cm in Troodos Square.