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MT 25 May 2017

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maltatoday, THURSDAY, 25 MAY 2017 4 News Farrugia doesn't exclude Opposition calling national YANNICK PACE PARTIT Demokratiku leader Marlene Farrugia, speaking yesterday about al- leged Russian interference in Maltese politics, has said that the Prime Minis- ter's statement was very serious and that if the security services are involved, the country "should get to the bottom" of the situation. Farrugia was addressing a press con- ference outside Castille where she was asked whether the Opposition will be calling a meeting of the national security committee, in light of the allegations. "I find it very off, but worse things have happened and have been stated," she said. "If the security services are being men- tioned we should get to the bottom of this but the reasons don't convince me." Given that the Opposition has the pow- er to call for a meeting of the committee, Farrugia said she would be discussing the matter with Nationalist Party leader Si- mon Busuttil. Farrugia said that the Partit Demokra- tiku had decided to hold a press confer- ence in front of "the knot monument" in Castille Square because it symbolised the confusion in the mind of a number of people that have not yet collected their voting document. "We are here to remind the electorate that we are in a campaign a year before an election was due because the govern- ment is tied in a knot of corruption," Far- rugia said. She insisted that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat had the choice to clean up his government and continue with his elec- toral programme yet he chose to defend his associates, and send the country to the polls early instead. Farrugia said she wanted to remind the nation that PD had been set up because of a governance crisis, and because after having voted out the Nationalist Party due to bad governance among other is- sues, the Labour Party, had also let them down. "We came together as a party so that we will be there on election day to give the people a real choice," Farrugia added, adding that the "symptoms" of problems with governance had started long before the Panama Papers revelations, which she described as the "cherry on the cake." Farrugia said that the Panama Papers had served to cast further doubt on Pro- jects Malta, which is headed by minister Konrad Mizzi, who was revealed to be the owner of the Panamanian company Hearnville Inc. Asked about disagreement between her and Busuttil on spring hunting, Farrugia insisted that the Prime Minister was ly- ing when he said that the two had differ- ent positions. "He lied because I clearly said that de- spite being against hunting I accept the result of the referendum and that the coalition will ensure that hunters' rights are respected," she said. Moreover, she said that as the daughter "If the security services are being mentioned we should get to the bottom of this but the reasons don't convince me." Allegations of Russian meddling 'show Muscat has lost the plot' TIM DIACONO LEADER of the Opposition Simon Busuttil has rubbished online reports which allege Russian meddling in Malta's election, insisting that such an allegation was "ridiculous and presumptuous". This morning, Prime Min- ister Joseph Muscat said that he had been warned "to ex- pect retribution" for Malta's role – as the current EU presidency – in hastening the visa waiver programme for Ukraine and for stopping the refuelling of a warship on the way to Syria. "I don't know whether to laugh or cry," Busuttil said, in response to questions from journalists at a press confer- ence. "It's absurd to believe that Russia could have been be- hind the case, and Muscat should be humble enough to realize that it will hard- ly make a difference to Vladimir Putin whether he or someone else runs the coun- try. He is in such a desperate situation that he has resorted to making such foolish state- ments. He has lost the plot completely." According to Busuttil, if there truly existed such a threat, then Muscat would have called an urgent meet- ing of the national security committee, that the Opposi- tion leader is a member of. "He didn't call such a meet- ing. Muscat is clutching at straws and he is trying to take everyone down with him." A report by specialist pub- lication IntelligenceOn- claimed that the whistleblower in the Egrant allegations, a Russian nation- al, was connected to these claims. At a press conference today, said he could not state, as claimed in the report, wheth- er the whistleblower was connected to these claims. Busuttil added that the dates in the report don't tally, as the refuelling case had oc- curred late in 2016, a year af- ter the Russian whistleblow- er arrived in Malta. "Moreover, the report claims that the whistleblow- er's partner is a Russian na- tional, when he is actually Greek," Busuttil said. The publication named- ropped Alex Zaslavsky, say- ing the whistleblower works for a St Julian's eMoney pay- ment firm, that belongs to Zaslavsky. MaltaToday could not con- firm whether Zaslavsky, listed as an American citi- zen with a California domi- cile according to the Maltese company registry, shares the same address with the whistleblower as claimed in British and American intelligence agencies, "with MI6 and CIA at the forefront" were concerned about possible Russian interference in the Maltese election process according to the report

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