NEWS

In Brief

INTRACOM DEAL

Greek technology giant to sell majority holding to Russian firm Holdings group Intracom agreed to sell a 51 percent stake in subsidiary Intracom Telecom to Russia’s Concern Sitronics for about 120 million euros. The non-binding agreement was signed in Athens yesterday in an expected deal. Concern Sitronics is the technology arm of Russia’s Sistema which is listed on the Moscow and London bourses. The deal is subject to conditions, such as the completion of financial and legal due diligence and necessary government approvals. CUPID MISSES Valentine’s Day loses its charm as Greeks bemoan commercialization Almost nine in 10 Greeks believe that Valentine’s Day has become too commercialized, according to a survey by Kappa Research which was made public yesterday. Just under half of the 603 people questioned said that florists have most to celebrate today and only 15 percent said that it is a day for lovers. More than 70 percent of those polled who said they were in love believe that Valentine’s Day is not special. MYSTERY DEATH Dutch man’s body found on Lesvos A 36-year-old Dutch man was found dead in his room in a guesthouse on the Aegean island of Lesvos late on Sunday night, police said yesterday. Gerry Rene Beker was found in his underwear with his head in a black plastic bag which had been tied around his neck. There were no signs that anyone had forced their way into the room but a number of drawers were open, officers said. It is thought that Beker had been dead for almost a month. His body will be taken to Athens for an autopsy. Innovation request Academics and business leaders from Thessaloniki joined forces yesterday and called on Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis to locate the planned construction of a Greek Microsoft Innovation Center in the northern city. Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis agreed with Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates earlier this month to set up an information technology research and development center. The leaders argued yesterday that by establishing the center in Thessaloniki, it can act as a focal point for the Balkan region. Expensive living The cost of living for a four-member family in Greece at the end of January reached 2,515 euros, rising 16.3 percent from a year earlier, the Greek Consumers’ Center (ELKEKE) said yesterday. According to the group, some 3,500 food item prices rose in 2005, some as many as three times, while average incomes inched higher by 30 euros per month. This resulted in a drop of 350 euros in disposable income per month per family. Cameras torched A group of some 15 hooded men yesterday set fire in broad daylight to two traffic cameras at the junction of Pheidippidou and Michalakopoulou streets in central Athens, police said. The arsonists poured a flammable liquid over the base of the CCTV cameras around noon and then set fire to them before running off. No arrests were made. The cameras were destroyed. Cretan resistance Police in Hania yesterday tried to arrest a farmer whose animals are believed to have wrought widespread damage to cultivations in Kerameia but met with violent resistance from his family. According to police, the man’s wife – who was driving a tractor without a license – swore at officers while her 15-year-old son pelted them with stones, egged on by her 67-father-in-law. The man’s father, wife and four young sons were all arrested. In the commotion, the farmer managed to get away. Property return A Turkish-Cypriot man yesterday won a legal fight to move back into his property in southern Cyprus after two Greek-Cypriot refugee families from the north dropped their appeals against a 2004 Supreme Court ruling evicting them from the home. Arif Mustafa has already been given the keys to the two properties in the village of Episkopi, near Limassol, according to the lawyers of the two Greek-Cypriot families who had been living in the properties since the island’s division in 1974. The families dropped their appeals after finding alternative accommodation.