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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Cyprus To Introduce Capital Controls, Including Ban on Cheque Cashing

Greek newspaper Kathimerini has reported that Cyprus will impose a limit on the amount of money depositors can take out of the country, with the only possible exception being for the payment of tuition and boarding costs for Cypriot students residing abroad. The authorities also ready to impose a ban on the cashing of cheques. The report comes hours after the sacking of the head of the Bank of Cyprus, Yiannis Kypri, who was forced out by Cyprus Central Bank Governor Panicos Demetriades on the orders of the country’s bailout lenders, the European Union (EU), the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). An EU spokesman denied Kypri’s sacking had been demanded by the lenders, saying that “these reports are not correct and decisions like this would any case be the responsibility of the Bank of Cyprus”. Cyprus will introduce the capital controls in order to avoid a massive bank run that could jeopardise its attempt to raise €5.8 billion in order to qualify for the €10 billion bailout offered by the troika.

UK Home Secretary Loses Appeal to Deport Radical Islamist Cleric

The UK Home Secretary, Theresa May, has lost a legal appeal to overturn a decision to block the deportation of a radical cleric to Jordan. Abu Qatada had his deportation blocked by a special immigrations appeals commission because “there was a real risk he would be subject to a flagrant denial of justice”. The commission feared the retrial Qatada would be subject to in Jordan, over bombing offences dating back to 1988, would be based on evidence obtained by torturing his co-defendants Abu Hawsher and Al-Hamasher. “Torture is universally abhorred as evil”, wrote the three appeal court judges, Lord Dyson, Lord Justice Richards and Lord Justice Elias. While they agreed that Qatada was a “very dangerous person” and that the government was right to see him as a danger to national security, they ruled that the United Kingdom could not expel a person if there was a risk they could face trial on evidence obtained by torture. “This is not the end of the road. The government remains determined to deport Abu Qatada. We will consider this judgment carefully, and plan to seek leave to appeal. Meanwhile, work will continue with Jordan to address the outstanding legal issues preventing deportation”, said a Home Office spokesman.

Foreign NGOs Targeted in Russian Tax Raids

Senior EU officials have raised concerns over the repeated raiding of the Russian offices of foreign-funded NGOs in recent days. The latest raids by Russian tax inspectors took place on Wednesday, with the offices of Human Rights Watch and Transparency International being searched by local authorities, with Amnesty International also being targeted. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle summoned the Russian ambassador to Germany to express the German government’s concern of raids on German political foundations in Moscow and St. Petersburg, including the offices of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation. A Russian law passed in July mandated that foreign-funded NGOs with any political involvement should register as a “foreign agent”, with those failing to comply facing heavy fines or even having their local managers sent to prison for two years. German Green Party politician Volker Beck said that the EU should re-evaluate visa privileges for Russian government staff in light of the raids, adding that the action was “aimed at intimidating all human rights advocates in Russia”.

North Korea Cuts Remaining Hotline with South Korea

North Korea has cut off a military hotline with South Korea, severing its last direct link with its southern neighbour. “Under the situation where a war may break out any moment, there is no need to keep up North-South military communications. From now, the North-South military communications will be cut off”, said a North Korean official to the official KCNA news agency. The hotline had been used to organise the movement of workers and vehicles to the Kaesong industrial complex located just north of the border, but funded mainly by companies in South Korea. The Kaesong complex had remained in operation since its opening in 2004 despite repeated crises between the two neighbours. North Korea also said it would warn the UN Security Council that the threat of nuclear war in the region was growing. The spokesman for the US Department of Defence, George Little, said that the hotline disconnection was “another provocative and unconstructive step”, adding that North Korea should focus on bringing peace and stability to the Korean peninsula.

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