NICOSIA – After remaining quiet for weeks, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said he wants a new anti-corruption panel – which complained it’s powerless – to look into assertions by his former aide that he ran a corrupt government under the influence of Russian oligarchs.
“It is simply not possible to make allegations about the president being involved in acts of corruption or even in a criminal act and to remain indifferent,” said Anastasiades, reported Reuters.
The claim was made in three books by a former advisor, Makarios Drousiotis, who also said the government is using surveillance techniques to help powerful Russians who hold sway there.
The government denied the claims reported by the site EURACTIV, although rich Russians had been using Cypriot banks for years to hide their wealth and the island is a favorite for Russian visitors and businesses.
EURACTIV contacted Anastasiades’ office which said the claims were just “unsupported accusations” and that it would “express total contempt to yellow journalism trash and malicious lies.”
Anastasiades’ second five-year term ends in February, 2023 and he is not seeking re-election as his administration remains dogged by a series of scandals, including over a visa program that ended in disgrace after giving residency and passports without checking for criminal activity.
Anastasiades has previously denied any allegations of corruption or wrongdoing but has acknowledged flaws in the so-called Citizenship for investment scheme to benefit rich foreigners, which he had strongly defended.
Andreas Mavroyiannis, a candidate backed by the political left for the Presidential election scheduled for Feb. 5, called for an inquiry into the allegations made in the books published from Dec. 2020 to Sept. 2022.
Anastasiades initially responded by saying that an inquiry would shed light on “slanderous claims and lies” and that he reserved his right to take any person repeating the claims to court, the news agency also noted.