EU pledges 171.6 mln euros for harsh winter’s losses, damage Greek farmers whose livelihoods were badly affected by last winter’s freak weather are to receive a total of 171.6 million euros in EU compensation, according to a European Commission decision made public yesterday. The approved funds account for 57.7 percent of EU compensation requested by the government. It is intended to finance the replanting of ravaged trees and crops and the repair of material damage, as well as replenishing revenues lost through reduced productivity. The remaining 42.3 percent is to be rerouted from EU funds for development projects. FAIR ADVERTISING? ND complaint over government’s alleged vote-winning tactics The government’s excessive promotion of state services through the media is blatant vote-winning tactic ahead of local elections next month and should be banned from television and radio, New Democracy’s spokesman complained in a letter to the National Broadcasting Council (ESR) made public yesterday. The services offered by citizen support centers are «shamelessly exaggerated,» Theodoros Roussopoulos charged, and asked ESR to pull the plug on the adverts as well as on the alleged favorable state TV coverage of PASOK’s Athens mayoral candidate, Christos Papoutsis. SMUGGLER CHARGED Greek arrested over Kyparissia ship Piraeus port police yesterday arrested the Greek captain of a ship that earlier this month allegedly abandoned dozens of illegal immigrants off the coast of Kyparissia – 36 of whom made it to shore and three of whom drowned – following a four-day trip from Turkey. Retired sailor Dimitrios Gerokounas, 63, faces a Piraeus prosecutor. Consumer boycott Consumer activity at fruit and vegetable markets in Athens and Thessaloniki has fallen by up to 60 percent since the start of Monday’s boycott, the Consumer Institute (INKA) said yesterday. Even the tomato – which had resisted downward price pressures – has depreciated, INKA added. The institute said it is working with market traders to produce a code of ethics to crack down on price fluctuations. INKA officials declared the four-day boycott, which ends today, a success. Internet row A Thessaloniki prosecutor yesterday appealed against last week’s decision to exonerate two Internet cafe owners, charged under a new law banning the use of electronic games in public places, by a court that found the law unconstitutional. Soccer funding Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos yesterday cut the percentage that soccer clubs get from the proceeds of the Pro-Po soccer pools, administered by state pools and lottery company OPAP. In an amendment to sports law under discussion in Parliament, Venizelos reduced the share of First Division teams to 3.5 percent from 4 percent, and of Second Division teams to 2.5 percent from 3.5 percent. Soccer clubs, who have seen earnings from TV rights collapse, have demanded more money from OPAP. Cyprus rape A 22-year-old British woman was recovering in a Cypriot hospital yesterday after being savagely beaten and raped near the island’s Ayia Napa clubbing resort. A 26-year-old man, reportedly spotted leaving a nightclub with the victim, turned himself in to police yesterday and has been remanded in custody for eight days pending inquiries. The woman, who has undergone two operations for internal injuries and may need more surgery, said she was kidnapped by three men who drove her to a remote spot where one of them raped her. Tornado A waterspout spotted by Cretan fisherman off the coast of Iraklion yesterday morning was a geographically rare phenomenon, caused by a drop in atmospheric pressure, and is is impossible to forecast, the National Meteorological Service (EMY) said yesterday. The tornado lasted for 10 to 15 minutes but caused no damage. N17 in Platres? The chief of Cyprus’s police has ordered an investigation into a report on the island’s Mega television channel that alleged November 17 terrorist group members Alexandros Yotopoulos, Dimitris Koufodinas and three Xeros brothers – Savvas, Christodoulos and Vassilis – holidayed at the resort of Platres last October or November.