March 19 2013

In a vote of 36 to none, the parliament of Cyprus rejected the proposed by euro-area finance ministers levy on bank deposits. Crowds on the streets cheer the decision. Banks and the stock exchange in Cyprus to remain closed until Thursday…

Powered by article titled “Cyprus crisis: MPs savage bailout terms as crowds protest – live” was written by Graeme Wearden, for on Tuesday 19th March 2013 17.43 UTC

5.43pm GMT

Cyprus’s finance minister denies resigning

Just in: Cyprus’s finance minister Michalis Sarris has denied resigning (following rumours that swept Cyprus and the markets this afternoon).

According to Reuters, Sarris texted them to say there was “no truth” in the reports.

5.21pm GMT

Junior coalition leader: we must reject the bailout

The leader of DIKO, the junior coalition partner in Cyprus’s government, has just torn shreds out of the bailout plan, according to Efthimia Efthimiou.

5.17pm GMT

Protests continue outside Cypriot parliament

Hundreds of protesters are continuing to demonstrate outside the Cypriot parliament, as MP after MP is deeply critical of the country’s bailout plan.

The scene in Nicosia appears calm, as night falls:

And here’s a photo of the protests earlier today:

5.12pm GMT

5.08pm GMT

Just a reminder for new readers — the deal on the table in Cyprus has been amended, so that savers with less than €20,000 in the bank are now not affected by the savings levy.

That clearly hasn’t been enough to satisfy Cyprus’s politicians.

5.07pm GMT

A few more details of the ongoing debate:

4.56pm GMT

Athens journalist Efthimia Efthimiou also reports that MPs are warning that other eurozone country’s could be hit by deposit taxes in future, unles Cyprus makes a stand:

4.53pm GMT

Germany criticised

Some Cypriot MPs are attacking Germany for its role in the bailout, and for saying the country was a money-laundering den, according to Greek journalist Joanna Kakissis:

4.48pm GMT

There are also reports that the governing party, Democratic Rally (Disy), asked for the vote to be delayed until Wednesday, but were turned down.

4.47pm GMT

MPs criticisise bailout plan

In the Nicosia parliament, a series of MPs have taken to the podium to criticise the bailout plan.

The key message, according to the ever-knowledgable Theodora Oikonomides is that they are warning that the programme will destroy Cyprus’s economy, so they must reject it.

The debate in Cyprus is also being held in a calm manner, but you don’t need to understand Greek to feel the anger that the MPs feel.

Updated at 4.48pm GMT

4.33pm GMT

Cypriot government MPs expected to abstain

It appears certain that the Cyprus parliament will reject the bailout package as it stands.

A spokesperson for the governing Democratic Rally (Disy) party of President Nicos Anastasiades revealed before the debate started that its MPs have decided to abstain, rather than support the package.

With the rest of the parliament expected to vote against it, this is a major display of defiance from Nicosia against the eurozone.

4.21pm GMT

Cyprus debate begins

The debate over the Cyprus bailout package, and the savings levy, has begun in Nicosia.

You can watch it live here (no translation).

4.17pm GMT

Britain sends a million euros to troops in Cyprus

Britain has just sent an aeroplane carrying one million euros to Cyprus as a”contingency measure” to help troops and their families.

The move (which sounds like the start of a Hollywood heist), is an attempt to make sure military personal won’t run out of cash if ATM machines and bank cards stop workinh

Further plans could be sent too. PA says the Ministry of Defence is determined to minimise the impact of the Cyprus banking crisis on “our people” and it will consider further shipments if required.

Updated at 4.22pm GMT

4.11pm GMT

Protests outside Cyprus parliament in Nicosia

Protests are underway outside the Cyprus parliament in Nicosia, ahead of tonight’s debate and vote on the bailout package.

People at the scene report that the crowds are chanting slogans, includign “Independence, freedom, democracy”, and

4.02pm GMT

Cyprus rumour mill

A sudden sell-off has wiped half a cent off the value of the euro, sending it down to $1.289 against the US dollar.

Two rumours, both currently unsubstantiated, are to blame.

1) that the Cypriot finance minister Michalis Sarris, has offered to resign, but has had the offer rejected by president Anastasiades.

This is running on several newswires, but we don’t yet have any official confirmation.

2) That the vote on the bailout package will go ahead tonight, but that the government MPs will not support the plan, meaning it certainly fails.

That’s via the BBC’s Athens correspondent, Mark Owen.

3.42pm GMT

Former Cypriot central bank governor blast EU

Earlier today Anthanasios Orphanides, the former central bank governor, told Bloomberg TV that the EU was making ‘a mockery’ of its banking union plans, and blackmailing Cyprus.

Here’s a video clip:

and here are some key quotes:

“We are witnessing historic times. What we are witnessing is the slow death of the European Project. We are in a situation that some European governments are essentially taking actions that are telling citizens of other member states that they are not equal under the law.”

“What we have seen in the last few days is a very serious blunder by European governments that are essentially blackmailing the government of Cyprus to confiscate the money that belongs rightfully to depositors in the banking sector in Cyprus. It is not clear how this can affect in a positive matter the European project going forward.”

3.29pm GMT

The latest word from Nicosia is that this afternoon’s debate will go ahead, according to Sandra Gathmann of Feature Story, who flags up that there are riot police outside the parliament to keep order.

Updated at 3.29pm GMT

3.22pm GMT

Cyprus president to speak to Merkel again

Cyprus president Nicos Anastasiades is due hold more negotiations with the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, over the bailout deal.

Government spokesman Christos Stylianides announced the plan in a statement, saying:

Last night the president had a telephone conversation with… Mrs Merkel whom he briefed about the current situation in Cyprus. The president informed the chancellor that the possibility was considered to cut the loan needs through Cypriot funds

The president of the republic is expected to have another conversation with Mrs Merkel today and he will continue his contacts with other leaders as well.

2.45pm GMT

Dijsselbloem insists Cyprus is a one-off

No other European country will be forced to impose losses on its savers, Dutch finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem insisted earlier today.

Dijsselbloem, the newish head of the Eurogroup (which helped shape the Cyprus bailout), told the Dutch parliament that there was no chance of a repeat elsewhere in the eurocrisis.

Reuters has the quotes:

“It is absolutely out of the question, there is no need for a one-off levy in other countries on assets,” Dijsselbloem said in the Dutch parliament.

He reiterated that because of the size of the Cypriot banking sector and its recapitalisation needs, it was inevitable that depositors had to be called on to help.

As mentioned earlier, Dijsselbloem announced last night that Cyprus should rework its savings levy to make it fairer – which led to today’s proposal to protect deposits of less than €20,000.

Incidentally…. in the comments below Masistios argues that the EU has been unfairly criticised over the decision to tax all savers, writing:

Suggesting that the decision to break the 100,000 euro guarantee was ‘forced’ on the Cypriots by the EU and that once the precedent has been set “by the EU” that it could be rolled out to other countries, is just sordid, nasty little anti-European propaganda.

To be honest, since Saturday there has been confusion, claim, and counter-claim over who said what and did what during the Cyprus negotiations. But our inside report from last night explains that the Cypriot government was forced to raise billions of euros from savers, and took the decision to not simply whack the rich:

Various formulas and calculations were kicked around, with the Germans and the IMF demanding much bigger taxes on savers’ deposits, the commission seeking modest contributions from savers with less than €100,000 and Anastasiades said to be keener on spreading the burden, fearful of scaring off the wealthy Russians with too punitive levies. They use Cyprus as a holiday, property, and banking paradise.

Anastasiades balked at anything over 10% for the wealthy, said EU sources, and settled on the symbolic figure of a 9.9% “tax” on depositors with more than €100,000. That meant the rest of the €5.8bn had to come from the more modest savers, at a one-off rate of 6.75%.

Updated at 2.50pm GMT

2.25pm GMT

Alexis Tsipras, the leader of Greece’s opposition Syriza party, has called for the Greek parliament to hold an emergency debate on the crisis in Cyprus.

He also criticised prime minister Antonis Samaras for failing to summon MPs back yesterday (a bank holiday in Greece as well as Cyprus), and accused the Greek leader of being “afraid of Parliament, afraid of people, afraid of light.”

Here’s the details, via Kathimerini:

Making a brief televised address on Tuesday, Tsipras repeated the request for a parliamentary debate on the consequences of the deposit tax proposed in Cyprus.

The SYRIZA leader labelled the measure “colonial” and said Cyprus’s refusal to approve it so far showed that there was room for bailout countries to engage in tougher negotiations with their lenders.

Syriza has also organised a ‘solidarity rally’ in Athens tonight, to show support for Cypriots (6pm local time, or 4pm GMT, or noon if you’re on the East Coast of the US)

2.16pm GMT

Our correspondent in Madrid, Giles Tremlett, reports that Spain’s largest companies say it’s ‘business as usual’ despite the Cyprus crisis.

Giles writes:

I am at a rather optimistic presentation by some of Spain’s largest companies of what they claim are investment opportunities in the country.

The companies insist that they are not worried about the Cyprus situation, with Cesar Alierta – chairman of telecoms giant Telefonica – saying that their investor relations department has not received any queries about it at all.

José Antonio Alvarez, a vice president of the Santander bank, says that, despite the fall in banking shares, there is little threat of contagion. Cyprus, he claims, is virtually an offshore banking centre. “The nature of the Spanish or Italian banking system is very different,” he says.

2.10pm GMT

Summary of Cyprus so far today

Here’s a quick round-up of the situation in Cyprus

• Cyprus has amended the terms of its controversial savings levy. Under the new proposal, savers with less than €20,000 in the bank should not see their deposits tapped to fund its bailout.

The move comes after opposition MPs refused to back the plan, and demonstrations outside the parliament yesterday. Last night the eurogroup (eurozone finance ministers) said Cyprus should rethink the terms of the levy

But despite the change, the country’s president has predicted that the bailout will be rejected this afternoon. MPs believe the terms are unfair, he told reporters (watch the clip here).

• A draft bill has been presented to parliament, to be voted on at 4pm GMT….

• …however there are reports that the vote will be delayed again (see here). We should know in the next hour or so….

Russia has escalated the pressure on Cyprus, warning that the savings levy could prompt the collapse of the Cypriot banking sector. Russia’s envoy to the EU echoed president Putin’s criticism yesterday, and warned of possible social unrest and bank runs (see here)

• The financial markets remain calm this lunchtime, with shares higher on Wall Street and in London, but lower in other markets.

• Cypriot cash machines were working today, with customers able to withdraw funds. The banks remained closed though (see here)

1.54pm GMT

Dow Jones up in early trading

On Wall Street, shares have opened higher as the financial markets continue to wait and see how the crisis plays out.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 62 points in early trading to 14514, up 0.4%.

And in London, the FTSE 100 is now in positive territory, up 9 points at 6567.

It’s calm, but some traders and economists remain concerned over how the Cyprus crisis will play out:

Stephen Lewis of Monument Securities, for example, is concerned by Russia’s unhappiness over the bailout (see the Russian envoy’s warnings this morning):

He told clients:

It has long been a German sticking-point that there could be no bailout for Cyprus unless depositors with that country’s stricken banks defrayed part of the cost. But when almost half the deposits in Cypriot banks are Russian-owned, it ought to have been clear to euro zone ministers from the outset that they would not be able to take unilateral decisions over the fate of those deposits without incurring consequences.

If the Russian Government had been involved in the bailout talks from the outset, bail-in arrangements for Russian depositors in Cypriot banks might have been negotiable. Instead, Moscow was presented with a fait accompli.

President Putin is well known to be sensitive to slights to Russia’s world-power status. His sharp reaction to the Cyprus bailout news was no surprise. He can be expected to take every opportunity to humiliate the euro zone authorities from now on. This could become an important consideration, with the Cypriot finance minister due in Moscow later this week.

1.03pm GMT

Cyprus parliamentary leaders could discuss postponement

The decision on whether to delay today’s vote on the Cypriot bank levy could be taken at a meeting of parliamentary heads this afternoon according to Cyprus newspaper Phileleftheros ( of Philenews)

It reports that leaders of the various parties will gather at 5pm (3pm GMT) to discuss the situation.

It adds that there is every indication of another delay (given the president’s prediction of defeat – see 12.25pm).

And as explained at 8.03am, Nicos Anastasiades needs to get all his MPs onside, and his coalition partner, just to tie the vote (assuming everyone shows up)

The full story from Phileleftheros is here.

Updated at 1.46pm GMT

12.43pm GMT

Bank levy vote delayed again?

Rumours are circulating on the newswires that this afternoon’s bailout vote could be delayed until tomorrow:

There were similar rumours last night…. developing.

12.25pm GMT

Video: Cyprus president predicts defeat

Cyprus’s president, Nicos Anastasiades, predicted earlier today that his government will be defeated in today’s bailout vote – and here’s a video clip of the brief interview:

Asked why, Anastasiades says MPs believe the terms are “unjust”, and “against the interests of Cyprus at large”.

He then enigmatically add that “We have our own plans” for what happens next.

12.11pm GMT

Russia: Cyprus banking system could collapse

The political tensions between Europe and Russia have escalated this morning, after the Russian envoy to the European Union suggested that Cyprus’s banking system could collapse.

In rather blunt language for a diplomatic, Vladimir Chizhov described the bank levy as “similar to forceful expropriation”. Speaking by video conference to reporters in Brussels, Chizhov went on to predict social unrest and bank runs in Cyprus, and perhaps beyond.

Chizhov said:

This decision is dangerous because of possible social repercussions in Cyprus and it is dangerous in terms of triggering possible domino effects in euro zone countries

And there is another threat. When the banks open, people will rush to withdraw their deposits – that’s another threat – and then the whole banking system can collapse.

(quotes via Reuters)

With impeccable timing, the EU is sending a delegation to Moscow later this week. Cyprus may not be on the official agenda, but the EU admitted today that Russia wants to discuss it:

Updated at 12.11pm GMT

11.50am GMT

The euro is unbruised by the latest twists in Cyprus, flat at $1.294 against the US dollar.

But as the Financial Times’s currency correspondent, Alice Ross, flags up, this isn’t necessarily a good sign:

11.46am GMT

Open Europe, the think tank, has warned that the decision to protect Cypriot savers with less than €20,000 will not quell the political alarm.

With the cat out of the bag as it were, this is unlikely to dial down frustrations or concerns significantly. This option is now on the table and the political divisions it has exposed are unlikely to be easily papered over.

Despite the fact that it seems the Cypriot government played a large role in the decision to structure the tax to hit smaller depositors in the first place, the anti-German feeling seems to be rising. Meanwhile, we still believe that the position of the government – which was elected on the basis of ruling out losses for any (large or small, foreign or domestic) depositors – remains precarious.

Here’s their latest analysis: Eurogroup distances itself from decision to tax small depositors in Cyprus

11.04am GMT

Photos: Cyprus ATMs in action

These photos from Cyprus this morning confirm that some cash machines are working, and that the situation is calm:

10.57am GMT

Lagarde backs protection for smaller savers

Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, has thrown her support behind the new push to protect smaller Cypriot bank acounts.

At a conference in Frankfurt this morning, Lagarde said:

We are also obviously extremely supportive of the Cypriot authorities’ intentions to introduce more progressive rates in the one-off levy or deposit-share swap within the agreed financial envelope of €5.8bn.

Eurozone insiders have said that Lagarde had wanted to hit the largest depositors in Cyprus hard, with levies of 30% to 40%.

Not everyone is impressed with the news, though, with the Daily Telegraph’s Jeremy Warner also pointing out that the principle of protecting savers is still trampled:

10.37am GMT

The central bank governor of Cyprus has warned MPs this morning that scrapping the savings levy for those with under €20k in the bank means it will miss the targets set under the bailout.

Panicos Demetriades told a parliamentary committee that:

“We will take less than 5.8 billion euros.

As expected, but it looks like confirmation that the revised government draft bill will scraps the tax for bank deposits under €20,000, without raising the rate for larger deposits.

Demetriades also told MPs that the European Central Bank wanted to protect those with under €100,000 in the bank.

And on the question of a bank run… Demetriades estimated that Cypriot banks would see outflows of at least 10% in first few days if the bill was passed, but that the money would flow back when confidence returned.

Matina Stevis of Dow Jones/WSJ reports that the committee is struggling to get their heads around the Emergency Liquidity Assistance programme (used to keep Cypriot banks afloat in recent months, and due to run out on Thursday).

10.20am GMT

Martin Baccardax, European business editor at IB Times, points out that Cyprus could get the money to spare savers with under €20,000 by imposing a haircut on bond holders.

Senior and subordinated bondholders were spared any losses in the original Cyprus bailout plan – a controversial move, as they had clearly consciously taken more risk than a Cypriot pensioner.

There’s only around €180m of senior debt in the two biggest Cyprus banks (and eurozone policymakers have always resisted impose losses on senior creditors in case it scared them off). But if junior bondholders were also included, Cyprus might be able to cover the shortfall….

10.03am GMT

Starting savings levy at €20,000 won’t ease all fears

While protecting people with less than €20,000 in Cyprus banks would be a generally welcome move (see previous post), it does not address the fundamental issue that the first €100,000 of deposits was meant to be protected under Deposit Protection Insurance.

Breaking that principle fuelled all the talk about savers in peripheral countries across the eurozone possibly withdrawing their money (although there was no sign of this in Spain or Italy yesterday).

As my colleague Aditya Chakrabortty argues powerfully today:

You don’t need any economics to grasp what Europe and the IMF have just done to the Cypriots. Anybody can imagine how awful it would be to wake up one morning and discover that their savings have just been raided.

Over the previous four “rescues” of bust eurozone countries, the details have always been swaddled in technicalities: debt restructuring this, fiscal consolidation that. With Cyprus, however, an immediate tax of up to 10% on savings accounts needs little explaining. Officials may euphemise it as a bail-in but everyone else will agree with yesterday’s Daily Mail headline: it’s a bank robbery.

More here: The Cyprus eurozone bailout conditions are bank robbery pure and simple

9.36am GMT

Reuters: draft bill reaches Cyprus parliament

According to Reuters, the Cypriot government has now submitted a new draft bill to parliament that would scrap the controversial levy on bank deposits for amounts below €20,000 euros.

However, it does not appear to include higher rates for larger deposits. Which surely means a shortfall?

Here’s the details:

The draft, seen by Reuters, sets a zero percent levy on deposits of up to 20,000 euros, a 6.75 percent rate for amounts between 20,000 and 100,000 euros and maintains a 9.9 percent tax on all deposits above that level.

Jeremy Cook, World First’s chief economist, has quickly crunched the numbers and concluded that a higher rate of 12.5% for those with more than €500,000 in the bank would cover the shortfall:

Updated at 11.12am GMT

9.27am GMT

Cyprus: we’re working on plan B

Cyprus’s government has confirmed that it is trying to renegotiate its bailout, as speculation is swirling that today’s parliamentary vote will be postponed again.

Cyprus’s Defense Minister Fotis Fotiou told Skai TV that the government was now working on “Plan B” – an alternative that might find favour with sufficient MPs.

Fotiou said:

If this does not pass through Parliament then it is part of responsible politics for us to look at Plan B, which we are examining but can’t discuss publicly.

What could this Plan B entail? One rumour is that deposits under €20,000 would be exempt from the tax – which would pacify concerns that poorer Cypriot are being hit. Another option, of course, is to start the tax at €100,000, which would mean hiking the rate for larger deposits — otherwise the maths doesn’t add up.

Fotiou also compared the terms of the bailout to the invasion of Northern Cyprus in 1974, saying “Of course it’s similar.” (Greece’s Kathimerini has more details).

9.16am GMT

RANsquawk, the market analysts, have flagged up that German Chancellor Merkel’s CDU/CSU party is to hold a special party caucus meeting tomorrow on Cyprus.

9.10am GMT

Tensions and anti-German feeling at the Cyprus banks, reports Channel 4′s man at the cash machines, Faisal Islam (see 8.20am).

Just to be clear, this doesn’t look like a bank run — with the branches closed, people can only take money out as the ATM machines are refilled.

9.03am GMT

Cyprus coverage in The Guardian today

Here are the main Cyprus stories in today’s Guardian:

Cyprus bailout: ‘Trust in our banks has evaporated. It can only get worse’

This piece from Angelique Chrisafis in Nicosia details how ordinary Cypriots will be affected by the deal as it stands. Anyone with a bank account will be hit by the levy, including all everyday current accounts and non-interest accounts. This is part of the political row facing parliament as it votes today.

The super-rich who have made Cyprus their home

Simon Bowers looks at the super rich who have based themselves in Cyprus, and who will be hit hard by the savings levy

Cyprus bailout: how Nicos walked straight into a German sucker punch

The inside story on how president Anastasiadis was outflanked at last weekend’s summit meeting, by Ian Traynor and Helena Smith.

Cyprus closes banks to stop run amid fury over bailout

Our news story of yesterday’s events, as Cyprus shuttered its banks until Thursday.

Updated at 9.03am GMT

8.53am GMT

France: we favour only taxing savings about €100,000

France’s finance minister has urged Cyprus to drop its plan to tax people with less than €100,000 in their bank account.

Pierre Moscovici said France was in favour of only taxing deposits over €100,000 (which would not have been protected if a bank went bust), but insisted it was up to the country’s government to decide.

However, Moscovici also ruled out lending Cyprus any more money directly, as the €10bn agreed on Saturday morning was the maximum it could be expected to repay.

Above 10 billion euros we are entering into a size of debt that is not sustainable.

That’s the crux of the Cyprus crisis — the country was ordered to find around €5.8bn from its savers, or collapse. President Anastasiadis, it appears, was unwilling to hit wealthy savers (including many Russians) with more than a 9.9% losses – which meant a 6.75% levy for everyone else.

With hardly any bondholders to hit (one of the quirks of the Cypriot system), the savers were straight in the firing line.

8.33am GMT

Fitch puts Cypriot banks on rating watch negative

Rating agency Fitch has put three Cyprus banks - Bank of Cyprus, Cyprus Popular Bank and Hellenic Bank - on Rating Watch Negative while the bailout drama plays out.

In a statement, Fitch said it took the move because of Cyprus’s decision to tax savers (by turning a percentage of their deposits into equity). It also suggested that it could downgrade the banks to ‘restricted default’ if this occurs.

Fitch said:

The Negative Watches will be resolved after a decision by the Cypriot parliament on the above extraordinary measures, which could come as early as today.

The crystallisation of such significant losses on depositors would constitute a restricted default (RD) under Fitch’s rating definitions, in which case the IDRs [individual default ratings] would be downgraded to ‘RD’.

8.20am GMT

Cyprus’s banks this morning

Faisal Islam, Channel 4′s economics editor, is in Nicosia, and currenty touring the city’s banks (which are due to be closed until Thursday).

Here’s what he’s found:

The Crisis Republic, a new blog covering the situation in Southern Europe, has also tweeted a photo of a Bank of Cyprus ATM machine in Greece – which says it can’t dispense cash because it’s being ‘upgraded’….

Updated at 8.21am GMT

8.08am GMT

Shares fall in Europe again

Other European markets just opened, and shares are falling again

FTSE 100: down 28 points at 6428, – 0.45%

Spanish IBEX: down 26 points at 8481, -0.35%

Italian FTSE MIB: down 46 points at 15877, down 0.3%

German DAX: down 0.4%

French CAC: down 0.3%

8.07am GMT

Cyprus stock exchange suspends trading

Cyprus’s stock exchange has declared that trading is suspended until Thursday, in line with the bank holiday announced yesterday.

8.03am GMT

Cypriot Parliamentary maths

Cyprus’s president, Nicos Anastasiades’s party only holds 20 seats in the Nicosia parliament, out of 56.

His coalition partner, DIKO, has another eight — but last night it declared that the savings levy was unacceptable as it stood.

Most opposition parties have already attacked the plan, including the Greens party (which holds just one seat) this morning:

Updated at 8.04am GMT

7.49am GMT

Cyprus to vote on bailout deal

Good morning. The Cyprus bailout remains in the balance today as the government struggles to find support for its controversial bank deposit levy.

After Monday’s cancellation, MPs are scheduled to vote on the package this afternoon – at 4pm GMT. But it isn’t clear that president Nicos Anastasiades has enough support to get the deal passed.

The government’s official spokesman, Christos Stylianides, has already warned this morning that the levy could be rejected.

Speaking on state radio early this morning, Stylianides said:

It looks like it won’t pass.

Should the measure be defeated, then Cyprus would be plunged into an even deeper crisis – as the bailout deal agreed over the weekend would be effectively sunk.

As we reported in the blog last night, eurogroup ministers insisted that Cypriot savers should still yield €5.8bn towards the bailout, but that the Cypriot authorities will introduce “more progressivity in the one-off levy”.

That fuelled hopes last night that deposit holders under €100,000 could be spared — but there is no word from Cyprus, yet, on what it will do.

According to Reuters, Stylianides could hold talks with the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and with Russian president Vladimir Putin today.

Meanwhile, Cyprus’s banks remain shut until Thursday, and we’re expecting fresh protests outside the presidential palace today.

We’ll be following all the action through the day.

Updated at 7.55am GMT © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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