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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 06-01-04

The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <www.ert.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Findings Confirmed
  • [02] Investigations Continue
  • [03] Deal Over Gas Prices
  • [04] Fertility Test at Home
  • [05] 3,000-Word Sentence
  • [06] Radical Changes in Health
  • [07] "Year of Changes and Reforms"
  • [08] Bus Tickets to Rise in March
  • [09] New Scandal Rocks White House
  • [10] Blood-Bathed Funeral
  • [11] "Year of Changes and Reforms"
  • [12] EU Assessment in March
  • [13] Epiphany With Rainfalls

  • [01] Zhelin Committed Suicide Findings Confirmed

    04 Jan 2006 21:33:00 (Last updated: 04 Jan 2006 23:03:21)

    By Mary Lou Tzempelikou

    Sources: NET

    The findings yielded by the second autopsy conducted on Wednesday night on the Russian criminals body by coroner Theodoros Vougiouklakis put an end to the scenarios regarding the conditions surrounding Maxim Zhelins death. Mr Vougiouklakis, who was ordered to perform the second autopsy by Larissas Appellate Prosecutor, confirmed that Zhelin committed suicide. This means that the new findings perfectly match the findings of the first autopsy performed by Roubini Leontari. Speaking on NETs central news bulletin, Mr Vougiouklakis also said that the body had instantly been moved by the Special Police Forces (EKAM), who were the first to reach the scene, and they then restored it to its initial position. He further made it clear that the findings of the new autopsy and the lab tests in combination with the blood traces found at the place where Zhelin was found dead, indicate that he committed suicide at this very spot.

    Zhelin's Mother in a State of Shock

    NETs correspondent to Moscow Dimitris Liatsos spoke with Zhelins mother Natalia Zhelina, who lives in Novorsibirsk, Siberia. Being in a state of shock upon her sons untold deeds, as well as his death, she said she learnt the bad news from the Internet and that she last spoke to him on December 29, that is a day prior to the massacre. In their contact, Zhelin told her that he was to be transferred to another prison, while his mother said he did not sound well.

    Zhelina also said she would like to get her sons body, or at least his ashes, and added that her 23-year-old son was a qualified optician, proving information that spoke of his involvement in his countrys special army forces army wrong.

    The last time Zhelina saw her son was on September 20, when the so-called Caucasian Mafia provided him with forged documents to enter Greece.

    Translated by Areti Christou

    Related News:

    Investigations Continue

    [02] Over the Russian Criminal's Case Investigations Continue

    04 Jan 2006 13:12:00 (Last updated: 04 Jan 2006 21:58:22)

    By Anna Kourti

    Sources: NET, ANA

    Three parallel investigations, conducted by the Police and the Public Prosecutors of Trikala and Ioannina, are underway in Trygona, Trikala, regarding the Russian fugitive. The investigations will also focus on the mistakes during the transfer, the responsibilities and the conditions under which the 23-year-old Russian died. The investigation ordered by Supreme Court Prosecutor Dimitris Linos is also underway. In the meantime, in her testimony to Trikalas Public Prosecutor, coroner Roubini Leontari, who performed the autopsy, insisted on the suicide scenario. Larissas Appellate Prosecutor, on his part, ordered coroner Theodoros Vougiouklakis to re-perform the autopsy on the Russians bodies lest any shadows on the conditions of his death should remain. The first results of the histological tests favoured the suicide scenario, since traces of gunpowder were detected in the criminals hand and head. On Wednesday morning, the Police Force leadership met this morning with General Police Heads from around the country at the Public Order Ministry.

    Meeting at Greek Police's Headquarters

    The preliminary investigation into the causes of Zhelin Maxims death will have completed by Friday. Supreme Court Prosecutor Dimitris Linos ordered it on Tuesday. Answering todays press articles, Mr Linos issued an announcement reading that his decision does not question Polices findings, but "the investigation was ordered to fully clarify the conditions of death, so there can be no doubt whatsoever."

    In the meantime, police officers are considering reorganizing the way transfers are carried out, as well as staffing certain police departments. Two days after the end of the operational phase of the case, meetings are taking place one after the other.

    On Wednesday morning, General Police Heads from around the country met with the Police Force leadership and discussed the problems. On his part, Police Chief Giorgos Aggelakos gave crystal clear orders regarding the thorough observation of the regulations when transferring criminals.

    Furthermore, the meeting also focused on the mistakes that led to the murder of the two police officers, as well as on the conclusions drawn from the police operation mounted for the arrest of the fugitives, and the collaboration with the army forces.

    Vice-General Efstratios kyriakidis leads the Sworn Administrative Inquiry, while commander of the Transfer Department Stavros Pantazis and police officer Lambros Tragoudaras have submitted to Ioannina Police Directorate memos opposing their being suspended.

    [03] Struck by Russia and Ukraine Deal Over Gas Prices

    04 Jan 2006 19:06:00

    By Tina Valaoura

    Sources: ANA, MNA, Reuters, AFP, BBC

    A five-year deal struck today forestalled the gas crisis, since Russia and Ukraine landed on a compromising deal over gas prices. Under the deal, Ukrainian state-run energy company Naftogaz will buy gas from Russian energy company Gazprom for 95 dollars per 1,000 cubic metres on average, instead of 230 dollars Russia initially asked for. So, gas supply was restored, and the EU did not conceal its satisfaction over this favourable outcome. In a joint Press Conference held in Brussels, Austrian Energy Minister Martin Bartenstein, whose country has taken over the EU presidency, and European Commissioner responsible for energy affairs Andris Piebalgs, hailed the prompt and effective response of the two sides to the pleas addressed by the EU to lift the deadlock. Mr Bartenstein voiced his belief that the deal in question is to safeguard the long-term and smooth natural gas supply to the European countries. He added, however, that the EU "learnt its lesson," and that it has to adopt a different stance on the security of energy supplies.

    EU Reviews its Energy Policy

    At this moment, Western Europe is dependent on Russian natural gas by 1/4 and it is to further increase its imports.

    Mr Bartenstein underlined that the EUs energy policy is to top the spring EU Summit (23-24 March), noting also that he requested the European Commission draw up a plan on a much more improved energy policy for Europe.

    He made it clear that emphasis should be put on the security of natural gas supply, competitiveness of prices, as well as on further investments in the energy sector.

    On his part, Mr Piebalgs favoured the need for a more effective European policy on energy affairs. He went on to add that he intends to present in spring the European Commissions draft plan on a new energy policy, while the final results and proposal will have been submitted by the end of the year.

    Both Sides Satisfied

    The compromising deal struck by companies Gazprom and Naftogaz satisfied, on the one hand, Gazproms request to sell natural gas for 230 dollars per 1,000 cubic metres. On the other hand, Ukraine is to buy natural gas for 95 dollars. But, how is this possible? The difference in cost is to be covered by RosOukrEnergo, which operates under the scrutiny of both sides.

    In particular, Gazprom will sell natural gas to RosOukrEnergo for 230 dollars per 1,000 cubic metres, but the company will mix the Russian natural gas with much cheaper gas from Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan (experts speak of 40 to 60 dollars). At the same time, as per Reuters, it will decrease Russian natural gas imports and raise those from Central Asian countries.

    Swiss-based RosOukrEnergo was established in 2004 to organise the transport of natural gas from Turkmenistan. Both Gazprombank and Austrian bank Raiffeisen have a saying in the companies capital.

    Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko voiced his satisfaction over the deal, estimating that the Ukrainian economy is ready to pay more for natural gas. Ukrainian Prime Minister Yuri Yekhanurov added that Ukraine learnt its lesson and that it will raise its energy efficiency to reduce its dependence on natural gas.

    As per Ukrainian analysts, the outcome of the "gas war" favoured Ukraine more, because "Russia failed to impose its will," while the majority of Russian analysts argued that this brief "gas war" was politically rather than economically motivated. They claimed that it was Ukraines parliamentary election scheduled for March that fuelled the crisis, instead of natural gas prices. Russian analysts said that Russia is particularly interested in the outcome of Ukraines elections, for the Kremlin seeks to restore its influence on Kiev.

    Translated by Areti Christou

    Read the story on other sources:

    CNN: Russia, Ukraine reach natural gas deal

    BBC: Ukraine and Russia reach gas deal

    Related News:

    Gas Agreement

    Natural Gas Supply Restored

    [04] Developed by British Researchers Fertility Test at Home

    04 Jan 2006 15:30:00

    By Vagelis Theodorou

    Sources: C - Daily Mail

    British researchers seem to have the answer that will acts as a "breather" for the worlds male population who are concerned about their fertility capacity. The researchers of Birmingham University developed Fertell, a test that can detect potential sperm problems within an hour. It can be used at home, without requiring the presence of an expert. Fertells use is quite simple: the man produces a sample, inserts it into the device that can find out whether he has enough sperm to fertilise a female egg. "Having reliable information at an early stage can be a hug advantage," argued Dr Chris Barratt, who led the research, adding that the test examined more than 3,000 samples taken from 150 men and yielded accurate results in 95% of cases. Fertell, the first male fertility test that can by applied at home, does not require a prescription and costs around 116 euros.

    It Resembles the Female Cervix

    The test makes the sperm pass through a "wall" that closely resembles the female cervix, and it measures the number of sperm that succeed in passing through that wall.

    After 75 minutes, the sperm that succeed in passing through the wall, are marked with special antibodies. The gathering of sufficient number of antibodies creates a red line indicative of a positive test.

    The line turns red when the sperm exceed the limit set by the World Health Organisation, namely at least 10 million sperm per millimetre.

    "The terst offers an early-stage diagnosis to couples trying to have a baby, pointed out Dr Barratt. At the same time, he added that age might have a negative impact on fertility, therefore, couples should not be advised to wait for a year before seeking any kind of treatment.

    Dr Allan Pacey, secretary of the British Fertility Society, argued that Fertell is the most advanced test performed in many hospitals, since it examines the sperms performance, instead of just numbering the sperm and examine how well they move.

    It is noted that the cases of male infertility post an ever-increasing trend worldwide, while studies put the blame on smoking, alcohol consumption, stress and sedentary life.

    Translated by Areti Christou

    Read the story on other sources:

    The Times: DIY male fertility test may cut couple's wait for a baby

    [05] 3,000-Word Sentence

    04 Jan 2006 14:34:00

    By Vagelis Theodorou

    A sentence imposed by an Australian Justice on a drug case truly outdid all previous rulings on such cases. 43-year-old David Wotton and his 41-year-old wife, Deborah, were arrested for growing pot at their house and Justice George Fryberg of the Brisbane Supreme Court issued a surprising ruling. Mr Wotton was sentenced to 12 months on probation, 50 hours of community service and to writing a 3,000-word essay on the links between cannabis and schizophrenia! According to the Justice, those smoking pot are more likely to develop mental illnesses, especially schizophrenia, and this was the reason for his choice. The couple's lawyer voiced his clients' regret and supported the Wottons won't be growing any more cannabis. As for Mr Wotton, however surprised he might have looked while hearing his sentence, he got down to it, as the essay is due on 3 April 2006.

    Translated by Sofia Soulioti

    Read the story on other sources:

    News.com.au: Dope grower gets 3000 word 'sentence'

    [06] Upgrading Primary Healthcare Radical Changes in Health

    04 Jan 2006 13:03:00 (Last updated: 04 Jan 2006 21:58:00)

    By Dimitris Alexopoulos

    Sources: NET, NET Radio 105.8

    Establish urban health centres, apply the family doctor institution and merge IKA health departments with ESY (National Health System) are some of the provisions included in the new Primary Healthcare Bill, approved by the Cabinet on Wednesday. "This Bill brings the Governments political proposal on primary hospital care to life," said Health Minister Nikitas Kaklamanis. Employment and Social Protection Minister Panos Panagiotopoulos stressed the new Bill is "a very important change that would improve the provided healthcare services." The main structures of the Bill, to be discussed over a two-month period, would be released by the end of January.

    Health Centres in Cities

    The urban health centres to be established are expected to ease off the workload at hospitals, especially regarding minor incidents, and will operate 24-7. 14 such health centres will be built in Athens, 4 in Thessaloniki and 1 in each major Greek city.

    Referring to the family doctor institution, Mr Kaklamanis estimated that 6,000 general doctors would have graduated in the following 10 years and reinforce the institution. At the same time, he stressed the programme would be gradually implemented, while none of the doctors serving today would lose their jobs.

    After the end of the Cabinet meeting, the two Ministers announced the gradual incorporation of IKA health departments to ESY (National Health System). As per Mr Panagiotopoulos, the aim is better healthcare for Greek citizens, underling IKA remains the main pillar of social security.

    The Health Ministry's aim to have the Bill ready by the end of the first semester of the year, while there will be a long dialogue with all social partners to avoid any surprises.

    Reactions

    PASOK Parliamentarian Evangelos Venizelos said the Health Minister is only consumed in new Bills and does not care about practical results, while he accused the Government of lacking policies in the Health Department. According to Mr Venizelos, the provisions included in the Bill could never receive funds from the 2006 Budget and the 2006-2008 converging programme and therefore are "doomed in a never-ending discussion."

    "Following a 20-year negligence displayed by PASOK governments regarding Primary Health Care, my colleague, Mr Venizelos, does well to demand the current Government settle the issue. I asked of the Prime Minister for the very same thing, it turned out it was not necessary, contrary to Mr Simitis stance on Mr Alekos Papadopoulos (PASOKs Health Minister), who was forced to quit on the same issue," Mr Kaklamanis replied.

    "Being vague, the Governments announcements are certain to contain anti-populist measures," read a KKE announcement, adding that PASOK and ND have forever been drawing up Bills, yet the working class keeps experiencing the faults in the Health Department.

    SYN member, responsible for Health and Welfare, Dimitris Adamopoulos described the announcements as an act of show-off shortly before Mr Kaklamanis steps down from the Ministry of Health.

    Commenting on the Bill, GSEE (Greek General Confederation of Labour) wondered, "how serious and binding the two-month talks can be, since the Bills pillars and parameters, upon which the study is to be documented, will have been submitted to an international house to process them."

    [07] Optimism Over Economy "Year of Changes and Reforms"

    04 Jan 2006 22:20:00

    By Mary Lou Tzempelikou

    Sources: NET, ANA

    At the annual meeting held by the Athens Champer of Commerce and Industry (EBEA) on Wednesday, Greek Premier Kostas Karamanlis appeared optimistic over the course of the Greek economy in 2006. In his statements, Mr Karamanlis described 2006 as "a year of changes and reforms, a year shaping a new reality." Furthermore, the Prime Minister underlined that the foundations for a competitive economy providing for job creation and more chances for everyone are being set. The statements by Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis were on the same wavelength.

    On his part, EBEA President Drakoulis Fountoukakos also voiced the optimism on behalf of the industry world, underscoring that this optimism is built upon the Eurozones revival, the strong growth rate the Greek economy enjoys and upon the fact that both the Government and the Main Opposition remained focused on the path of fiscal purgation and the acceleration of structural reforms. The reception was also attended by President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias, as well as by a number of politicians.

    Translated by Areti Christou

    [08] As of February in Taxi Cabs, KTEL Bus Tickets to Rise in March

    04 Jan 2006 18:10:00

    By Despina Hristopoulou

    Sources: NET,ANA

    Bus tickets will remain as they are up until March. Rises in fares are to come into force in early March, since it takes two months to issue new tickets. As per information, the rises are not to surpass past inflation. As it was made public on the sidelines of Transport Minister Michael Liapis visit to a photo exhibition at Agios Dimitrios metro station, rises in the fares of taxi cabs and KTEL are most likely to come into force as of February, after being finalised by Mr Liapis and Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis. In taxi cabs, the tariff is to rise to one euros, as opposed to 85 cents, while minimal compensation which currently stands at 1.75 euros is to shoot up to 2.50 euros. In KTEL, rises in fares are to post a 7% increase. At the same time, the operational plan of the new Olympic Airlines, which is to start operating as of spring, will be ready within the month. The coming week is to witness the formation of the companys new Board of Directors. Furthermore, Mr Liapis announced that a Bill on telecommunications is to be submitted to Parliament next week, while a Bill on trade transfers the week after.

    Translated by Areti Christou

    [09] New Scandal Rocks White House

    04 Jan 2006 22:00:00

    By Despina Hristopoulou

    Sources: , Guardian, BBC

    A new scandal assuming political and economical dimensions has played havoc with the US political system. The new disclosures were prompted by former prominent Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who pleaded guilty of charges of fraud, conspiracy and tax evasion. He also revealed that he participated in a ring bribing Congressmen. He further added that he intends to reveal the names of the Congressmen he bribed, thus causing a racking headache to the Bush administration, which has not yet survived more recent scandals. Experts think that should Abramoff "spill the beans," the scandal is certainly to have hair-raising implications. Following the initial disclosures, the White House announced that the money Abramoff had provided for contributing President Bushs second election campaign would be donated to the American Heart Association.

    Translated by Areti Christou

    Read the story on other sources:

    Guardian: Bush to Give Away Abramoff Donations

    BBC: Lobbyist case threatens Congress

    [10] Violence Escalates Blood-Bathed Funeral

    04 Jan 2006 14:02:00 (Last updated: 04 Jan 2006 15:50:19)

    By Tina Valaoura

    A Shia funeral in Miqdadiya, 100km northwest of Baghdad, ended in bloodbath, when a suicide bomber killed 36 people and injured 40 more. The funeral was for a bodyguard of a local leader of the Dawa party, headed nationally by Islamist Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari. The bodyguard was killed when gunmen attacked the local leaders motorcade on Tuesday. The local leader himself was badly wounded.

    The next act of the tragedy was written today at the funeral, when mortars and gunfire were launched against the mourners, who tried amid panic and chaos to find refuge at the cemetery. Following, a suicide bomber strapped with explosives, blew himself up among them.

    This is the bloodiest attack since the December 15 elections in Diyala province, which has been turned into a theatre of mounting violence with various hardline Sunni groups and Al Qaeda being increasingly active in the area.

    Earlier, Iraqi authorities had announced the arrest of 71 people in Diyala. 25 of the arrested were wanted criminals.

    Blasts and Ambushes

    New incidents of violence and bloodshed were also reported today in Baghdad.

    A booby-trapped car exploded this morning in Al Kadmiya at the northern part of the Iraqi capital, near the local police station and claimed the lives of 5 Iraqi policemen, while injuring 13 more. The blast also caused extensive damages to at least 10 cars.

    Eight more people lost their lives and 12 were injured, when another car bomb went off near Durah, southern Baghdad.

    What is more, an Oil Ministry General Director and the Minister's son were ambushed and murdered this morning in western Baghdad.

    In the meantime, gunmen ambushed a convoy of 60 fuel tankers north of Iraqi capital, destroying at least 18 of them, when they fired rocket-propelled grenades at the convoy.

    Lastly, in the south, at the holy Shia city of Kerbala, a booby-trapped car exploded injuring at least three people and seriously damaging four vehicles.

    Translated by Sofia Soulioti

    Read the story on other sources:

    BBC: Bomber 'kills 30' at Iraq funeral

    Reuters: Iraq bomber attacks Shi'ite funeral, kills 36

    [11] Optimism Over Economy "Year of Changes and Reforms"

    04 Jan 2006 22:20:00

    By Mary Lou Tzempelikou

    Sources: NET, ANA

    At the annual meeting held by the Athens Champer of Commerce and Industry (EBEA) on Wednesday, Greek Premier Kostas Karamanlis appeared optimistic over the course of the Greek economy in 2006. In his statements, Mr Karamanlis described 2006 as "a year of changes and reforms, a year shaping a new reality." Furthermore, the Prime Minister underlined that the foundations for a competitive economy providing for job creation and more chances for everyone are being set. The statements by Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis were on the same wavelength.

    On his part, EBEA President Drakoulis Fountoukakos also voiced the optimism on behalf of the industry world, underscoring that this optimism is built upon the Eurozones revival, the strong growth rate the Greek economy enjoys and upon the fact that both the Government and the Main Opposition remained focused on the path of fiscal purgation and the acceleration of structural reforms. The reception was also attended by President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias, as well as by a number of politicians.

    Translated by Areti Christou

    [12] At the Meetings of Eurogroup and Ecofin EU Assessment in March

    04 Jan 2006 18:28:00 (Last updated: 04 Jan 2006 21:16:05)

    By Mary Lou Tzempelikou

    Sources:

    European Commission is to proceed with the assessment of the Greek budget, the updated Stability and Growth Plan, as well as the fiscal adjustment Greece has achieved recently, at the meetings of Eurogroup and Ecofin scheduled for 13 and 14 March, instead of 24 January, as it had initially been announced. The calling-off is to delay the decisions on the issue of the one-year deadline Greece has to post a deficit drop below 3% of the GDP. The decisions in question, were to be taken in the coming week. As per information, Greek Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis had on Wednesday a congenial phone contact with European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Joaqu&#237;n Almunia.

    Harsh Tongue by PASOK

    PASOK spokesman Nikos Athanasakis unleashed a harsh attack against the Government. He accused both the Prime Minister and the Economy Minister of lying to the Greek people regarding the budget, because they knew that "their budget is not feasible." Mr Athanasakis did not miss referring to the announcements by the Economy Minister, according to which, the Public Sectors revenues were increased as expected.

    "The Government stays loyal to its strategy not to aim high and then it boasts minor successes," underlined Mr Athanasakis and went on to say, "We were told that the Public Sectors revenues increased by 6.3% compared to the planned 5%, and boast for achieving their objective. But, what was the objective? The 2005 budget aimed at raising the states regular revenues to 7.2%. A few months later, this objective was revised to 10.2%. However, with the huge lack of revenues looming, the objective was revised anew to 5%. And now, we should all hail the 6.3% rise, for the objective is supposed to have been met."

    "Everyone in Greece knows who drew up fictitious and infeasible budgets, bearing the seal of the European Union, who have repeatedly been lying to the Greek people over the real economy situation. PASOKs spokesman insults the intelligence and the memory of the Greeks," answered back government spokesman Thodoris Roussopoulos.

    Circles of the Ministry of Economy reminded that Greece had submitted no claim requesting a new deadline, yet, should the European Commission decides so, the decision will be "welcomed."

    In the meantime, Greek exports keep posting a remarkable increase. As per figures released by the Greek External Trade Organisation, the increase posted between January and October 2005 stood at 12.8%, as opposed to the corresponding period in 2004.

    Translated by Areti Christou

    Related News:

    2006 Greek Economic Policy

    [13] Fears Over Floods Epiphany With Rainfalls

    04 Jan 2006 11:27:00

    By Dimitris Alexopoulos

    Meteorologists have forecast rainfalls and storms for the three-day Epiphany holiday. Because of the continuous rainfalls, the water level at the Evros river and Pamvotida lake in Ioannina has risen and exceeded the safety limit. As per the announcement issued today by the Evros Prefecture, the rivers water level has been stabilised at 5.30m, while the safety limit is at 4.70m and the alert limit at 5.70m. However, 200 hectares of farmland flooded in Feron municipality when a local torrent overflowed, while many fields in Pythio and Lavara also flooded by local streams. Inhabitants at the Ioannina island are also faced with problems, as the water level of lake Pamvotida is gradually rising and could cause damages to houses and stores around the lake.

    Translated by Sofia Soulioti


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