Empty vessels

As a young journalist I was advised to tell a story the way I would explain it to my grandmother. Forty years later I find it hard to answer in simple terms the most common question of late: «What’s happening with Yiannis Paleokrassas?» Certainly, the former president of the Public Power Corporation (PPC) is not to blame for my inability to explain. In a recent interview with Sunday’s Kathimerini, Paleokrassas accused senior ministry officials of acting as conductors in an «orchestra of corruption.» Senior conservative officials, he said, were involved in a «cross-party mafia» at the state-owned firm. Paleokrassas made clear that corruption is not a thing of the past. Even so, his words apparently meant different things to different people. Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos assured voters that Paleokrassas was referring to PASOK’s past sins while the opposition and the pro-PASOK media were keen to pounce on his remarks as evidence of corruption inside the ruling party. The confusion lasted two or three days until Paleokrassas insisted he was referring to both past and present. However, instead of clearing up the confusion, this merely muddled matters further. The government asked him to send any evidence to the prosecutors or else tender his resignation. Ironically, former prime minister Costas Simitis used to fend off corruption charges with the same response. The switch was not limited to the ruling party. Rather than capitalizing on the allegations of enduring corruption in PPC, PASOK figures and affiliated media hammered away at Paleokrassas, questioning his managerial skills, his political image and the credibility of his charges. In other words, they reacted like the government. Adding confusion, the pro-government press sided with the rebel. «Empty vessels make the loudest noise,» as my grandmother would say.