Greek left-wing SYRIZA forms coalition with pro-Kremlin far right

Greece Elections



Article by: Anton Shekhovtsov

After a landslide victory in the early parliamentary elections held on 25 January 2015, the Greek Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) that secured 149 seats in the new parliament has surprised the left-wing voters and sympathizers by agreeing to form, already on 26 January, a coalition government with the far right Independent Greeks party (ANEL) that now has 13 seats. Popular support for the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn led by currently imprisoned Nikolaos Michaloliakos has slightly decreased: the neo-Nazis have secured 17 seats (one seat less than in 2012), but the Golden Dawn is still the third largest party in Greece.

Both SYRIZA and ANEL are so-called “anti-austerity parties” implying that they oppose reducing budget deficits as a response to the Greek financial crisis, as well as rejecting the austerity package put forth by the EU and the IMF. The “anti-austerity” platform may seem the only agenda that has drawn the two parties they share, but they also share a similar approach to foreign policy issues – an approach that may undermine the EU unity over the Russian threat.

Both parties are overtly pro-Russian, and SYRIZA’s leader Alexis Tsipras denounced the sanctions against Russia imposed by the EU for Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its invasion of Ukraine that has already cost Ukrainians thousands of lives. In May 2014, i.e. already after Russia had started its invasion of Ukraine, Tsipras travelled to Moscow to meet Vladimir Putin’s major allies such as Valentina Matviyenko, chairman of Federation Council of the Russian Federation, and Aleksey Pushkov, chairman of the Russian parliament’s foreign affairs committee. Both Matviyenko and Pushkov are sanctioned by the US, while Matviyenko is also sanctioned by the EU. This did not prevent Tsipras from holding a meeting with her.

Valentina Matviyenko and Alexis Tsipras at a meeting in Moscow, May 2014

According to Russian fascist Aleksandr Dugin, writing in 2013,

In Greece, our [i.e. Russia’s] partners could eventually be Leftists from SYRIZA, which refuses Atlanticism, liberalism and the domination of the forces of global finance. As far as I know, SYRIZA is anti-capitalist and it is critical of the global oligarchy that has victimized Greece and Cyprus. The case of SYRIZA is interesting because of its far-Left attitude toward the liberal global system. It is a good sign that such non-conformist forces have appeared on the scene.

The pro-Russian sentiments of SYRIZA were manifested, in particular, in its voting behaviour in the European parliament. For example, on 16 September 2014, when the European Parliament ratified the EU-Ukraine Association agreement – an agreement that was one of the reasons of the Russian invasion of Ukraine – all six MEPs of SYRIZA voted against the ratification of this agreement.

If SYRIZA is Russia’s “Trojan horse” in the EU, then ANEL led by Panos Kammenos may be even worse.

ANEL (founded in February 2012) is a far right party that – similar to the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn – opposes immigration, multiculturalism and is prone to conspiracy theories. For example, as argued by Pavlos Zafiropoulos, ANEL and its supporters believe that the Greek government “is spraying the populace from airplanes with mind-controlling substances.” Anti-Semitism is not alien to ANEL either: “Panos Kammenos, speaking on a TV program made the baseless claim that Jewish people in Greece are not taxed in contrast to Christian Orthodox Greeks.”

An article titled “An Attempt at Reviving the Russian Party” published in Afinskiy Kur’er (Athens Courier). Gavriil Avramidis is featured on the central photo

The driving force behind the pro-Russian approach of ANEL seems to be Gavriil Avramidis, who was elected MP with ANEL in Thessaloniki in 2012. He is also head of the Patriotic Social Movement “Greek-Russian Alliance” founded in 2001 and aimed at widening co-operation between Greece and Russia.

(left to right) Russian Consul General in Thessaloniki Aleksey Popov and MP Gavriil Avramidis, 23 January 2015, Thessaloniki

Yet Avramidis may be not the only politician in ANEL who is lobbying Russian interests in Greece. Kammenos visited Moscow in the first half of January 2015. Moreover, an article titled “An Attempt at Reviving the Russian Party” that was published on 22 January in the Greek Russian-language newspaper Afinskiy Kurer (Athens Courier) discussed the pro-Russian approach of ANEL in general.

Several questions remain, however. Are pro-Russian sentiments indeed important for ANEL? Will ANEL contribute to the strengthening of SYRIZA’s pro-Russian positions? Will the new coalition government push for lifting the EU sanctions against Russia that is escalating its invasion of Ukraine?

Doubtlessly, Russia will try to capitalise both on the victory of SYRIZA and the formation of the SYRIZA/ANEL coalition government. Putin has already congratulated Tsipras on his party’s victory saying that he is “confident that Russia and Greece will continue to develop their traditionally constructive cooperation in all areas and will work together effectively to resolve current European and global problems.” BBC correspondent Gabriel Gatehouse, currently in Athens, reports that he has seen the Russian ambassador Andrey Maslov entering the SYRIZA main office:

Kammenos’ visit to Moscow was most likely connected to the possibility of the formation of the SYRIZA/ANEL coalition government. At the same time, Avramidis visited the General Consulate of Russia in Thessaloniki on 23 January 2015, i.e. just a few days before the parliamentary elections, to discuss, with Consul General Aleksey Popov, the renewal of the cooperation between Greece and Russia, as well as lifting the sanctions against Russia.

Since the EU is a consensus-based organisation, imposing or tightening sanctions against Russia requires all the Member States to agree to such moves. Hence, the issue of sanctions may become a negotiating point for the new Greek authorities when they meet with more influential EU players to renegotiate the terms of the bailout programme for Greece. SYRIZA and ANEL are “anti-austerity” parties in the first place, so their pro-Russian sentiments may increase the cost, rather than contribute to lifting or blocking, of the EU sanctions against Russia.

Originally published on Anton Shekhovtsov’s blog, republished with permission

Source: Anton Shekhovtsov’s blog

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  • Dirk Smith

    Perhaps third-world Greece can join one of Putin’s third-world alliances. LOL….

    • Michel Cloarec

      Only to take money in wheelbarrow, that you were good at !
      Now you will to reimburse all those dollars. Or no pensions!

    • Michel Cloarec

      What culture ? OUZO and cheese ?

      • Michel Cloarec

        After 100 years of BS from bolschevik, sovjet,urss,ddr and company. Do you think that your so called culture is attractive to anyone with ouzo free brain !
        Any bs propaganda is organized from the top and is not your own words. That is authoritarian and anti democratical.
        Therefore must it be fight against !

        • Michel Cloarec

          OK , so now everybody know that you are a paid troll from Kremlin. Do you get paid in rubbles or in medals ?
          Shame on you, You should have said before, so I could have save ink and time . I am not trying to revert you, it is too late.
          Only waste trashbin for the likes of you is good enough!
          die AHNUNGSLOSIGKEIT comrade drinas !
          I hope you don´t have nuclear weapons in Greece , because I would be afraid with the minority gov you have now it seems dangerous to rely on puppets.
          (kremlin´s troll on photo) (suffering from ….in russian)

  • J Edlund

    It’s high time to avoid holiday destinations in Greece and Turkey. Seriously, don’t support states turning rouge. If Greece don’t want to pay their debts, fine, then I can’t take theme seriously and they should be cut off from EU & the monetary union. If the Greek people want to turn to Russia, let them do so. But don’t keep them in the EU, don’t support their trade in goods and services.

    • Obélix

      In my country (Greece) we have a saying which states “more asshole you die” so be careful.

      • Michel Cloarec

        Have you been to school or did you do a stage period at FSB
        Say hello to godfather (he is dead now)

  • Pawel Michal Bartolik

    On the one hand, as a leftist I find Syriza’s victory a good news for Greece. On the other, I consider Tsipras’s stance towards Russian proxy war in Ukraine shameful and contrary to leftist principle of national right of self-determination. Still, I think there is something potentially good for Ukraine (yes, for Ukraine) in Syriza’s victory. First, Syriza gained its legitimacy and support as the power which articulated mass demands and grew thanks to the mass movement. Rebellion in Greece, just like Arab Spring and Maidan, was an expression of popular anger and part of the worldwide wave of protests, mass riots, strikes and revolutions and Syriza is dependent on all these dynamics, and will be in the future. Second, a more practical question. Activists of Syriza often supported the uprising in Syria and factions of armed opposition to (staunchly pro-Russian) Bashar al-Assad. The lion’s share of Russian help for Assad comes marine way, i.e. through the Aegean Sea. Ukrainians fighting Russian aggression should be aware of other fronts where the Russian imperialism risks losing its influence, so they should demand blocking any transport of Russian arms to Syria, reminding pro-insurgent “Syrian” stance of Syriza. Tsipras cannot ignore protests against arming Assad. And weakening Assad is weakening Putin.

    • Timothy Speer

      As a fellow leftist, I also find Syriza’s support of Putin disturbing.

  • marko j zala

    Russia is building alliances with every anti European Union party in Europe, be it left or right, it doesn’t matter as long as they are anti EU. The aim is to break up the European Union.

    • Michel Cloarec

      we know , but you need finances, kremlin seems to have problems with wallet BB+ = Junk in english or pourrie in french and tollpatschig in german.

  • Michel Cloarec

    So now we have the trolls army on march again !
    Did you ask your fuhrer the right to speech ?
    (photo : corruption or the right to put red flagg on top of parliement building in Athenes ) NAIVITY ..Where do you get your gas from ?

  • Michel Cloarec

    Remind me of the unemployement rates in Greece.
    Greece happy to get jobs in Ukraine , shuffling coal in Mariupol !
    (ok I am not fair, smuggle of ouzo very intensive also)

  • Michel Cloarec

    What can West do to save Grekland from default ?

    Two Greek banks already asked for emergency liquidity assistance before the election, not because they were experiencing a bank run but as a
    precaution because of the extremely volatile conditions they were
    seeing.Greece’s banks are still reliant on a lifeline from the European Central

    Bank, even though Syriza might not like it. The ECB lent €56 billion to Greece’s banks in 2014. That’s down from €63 billion in 2013, but still makes up a huge proportion of their funding.
    If people start drawing down their deposits or money gets sent abroad,
    as the FT indicates, the banks will be even more reliant on that crutch, which is tied to its bailout agreement.

    Read more:

    Each of Greece’s four biggest dropped by at least 20%. One, Bank of Piraeus, dropped by 30%, the maximum limit for Greek stocks. It’s likely

    the worst day on record for the sector.

    Together, they’ve have lost between a third and half of their value since Syriza was elected this weekend. It appears that shareholders are not warming to the idea of a radical left-wing government

    Predictably, Europe’s big institutions and politicians in other
    countries aren’t exactly happy with the sound of this. Syriza are far to
    the left of mainstream European politics, and that sort of group isn’t
    usually associated with sound economic management. A glance at their
    former constituent parties (Syriza started off as a big-tent coalition)
    shows that “far left” isn’t an unreasonable way to describe them. “Trotskyism” pops up quite a lot.

    So is it true? Are they a bunch of financial incompetents, about to undo
    the hard but necessary work of austerity?

    Read more:

    Read more:

  • Eddy Verhaeghe

    makis, only in the Donetsk Oblast there is a large Greek diaspora (in numbers and not percentage wise). In Odessa the diaspora is not only small percentage wise but also in numbers :

    And if I were Greek, I wouldn’t trust the fans of Russkiy Mir that much, as the Greeks were deported twice by Russia – once by Catherine the Great and once by the NKVD during the Interbellum – and suffered under forced assimiliation by Russia the whole time.
    If many Greeks went to fight with the DPR I don’t know, but as you didn’t get the facts about the large Greek communities really right, I highly doubt it…

  • Timothy Speer

    Uhh, there is like one or two neo nazis in Ukraine’s parliament, so no, the “regime” isn’t “openly neo nazi”.