NYT: Kremlin’s Man in Greece, Ivan Savvidis, Stirs Trouble on FYROM’s Name Deal

PAOK chairman Ivan Savvidis invades the pitch on March 11, 2018. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Antonis Nikolopoulos)

There’s been an arrest warrant outstanding for Greek-Russian billionaire Ivan Savvidis since he stormed onto the field he owns of the soccer team PAOK he owns in March, wearing a gun, to protest a referee’s decision in a game in Thessaloniki, much of which it seems he also owns and where US and Greek officials believe he’s a straw man for Russian President Vladimir’s interest in the country and the Balkans.

He hasn’t been prosecuted, of course, as it’s known he’s close to Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tspiras, an anti-nationalist who made a deal to let the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) have a new name and get into NATO and open European Union accession talks – which Savvidis, analysts said, was secretly trying to undo.

It seems like he’s been able to move easily between competing interests, using his wealth and connections, despite not being fluent in Greek, to show up like a shadowy figure in a spy movie, charming and buying and scheming and, critics said, double-dealing for Russia.

That was the essence of a piece in the New York Times tracing his ability to interact with the people at the top of politics and business to get what he wants, even having the Greek government support to write off a big fine for a Greek tobacco company he formerly owned, his roots being in the business in Russia, where he made his money before coming to Greece.

FILE – PAOK chairman Ivan Savvidis invades the pitch on March 11, 2018. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Antonis Nikolopoulos)

The Times said that US officials in June intercepted communications showing Savvidis was working as Russia’s agent to undermine the name deal with FYROM, which the West strongly backed to get what would be North Macedonia into NATO as a bulwark against growing Russian interests in the Balkans.

As part of the agreement to end a 27-year feud, Tsipras said he would lift a veto Greek used to keep out FYROM after successive governments there kept claiming Greek lands, including the real Macedonia, an ancient abutting Greek province, and Thessaloniki, the second-largest city and major port in which Savvidis has a controlling financial interest even if Greek police can’t seem to find him.

When his role in the FYROM game was found out, the US turned over the information to Tsipras’ coalition government, an odd alliance of Leftists with terrorist and anarchist sympathizers and strong anti-American elements, and Tsipras’ partner, the pro-austerity, marginal, jingoistic Independent Greeks (ANEL) of Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, a strongly pro-American figure who wants more US military bases in Greece.

That led to Greece expelling two Russian diplomats from Athens and barring the entry of two more – but Savvidis remained untouched, the Teflon spy who still has the ear of officials the US said he was trying to undermine.

It was an odd move from Tsipras’ government, it seemed, as he and Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias were both involved in the Communist party and had wooed Putin and Moscow for a possible bailout Tsipras took power in 2015 and was unable to keep a vow to break with Greece’s international creditors who forced him to submit to more humiliating austerity measures he swore to reverse so Greece could get a third bailout, this one for 86 billion euros ($99.17 billion) in the summer of 2015.

While the US was joyous that the Russians had an apparent setback, it may yet turn out the other way around. A Sept. 30 referendum in FYROM got 91.5 percent support for the deal but a boycott called by opponents led to a paltry 36.5 percent turnout which the country’s election commission said made the results invalid.

FILE – A man enters a polling station to cast his ballot during a referendum in Skopje, FYROM, Sunday, Sept. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

And now FYROM Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, who said he had a mandate despite the low turnout, must convince a Parliament where he needs a two-thirds majority for ratification to change the country’s Constitution to remove irredentist claims on Greece even though he got concessions to let his citizens be called Macedonians and have a Macedonian language and culture.

US GETS TOUGH

Even if he does, Kammenos is opposed, said his party would vote against it and that he would leave the coalition if it comes to a vote – at the same time he said he wouldn’t stand in the way of a deal, repeating a pattern of duplicity in dealing with Tsipras and SYRIZA.

“We’re pushing back and showing that we can play hardball too,” said Christopher R. Hill, a former United States Ambassador to FYROM, which the US and 140 countries call Macedonia. “We can tattletale, we can do things that maybe in the past we did not do.”

The Times said the secret maneuverings occurred as President Donald Trump traveled to Europe over the summer and publicly embraced Putin and Russia while mocking NATO, contradictory to what US intelligence and diplomats were working on with Greece.

US officials said they thought Russia would use the FYROM deal as a way to undercut American interests in the notoriously-corrupt Balkans. When the name agreement was moving forward over the objections of Russia and a majority of Greeks, Russia’s Ambassador to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov said his country wasn’t happy. “Sure, we will not shoot nuclear bombs,” adding that, “There are errors that have consequences.”

That led to a series of diplomatic cables to Washington from the US Ambassador to Greece, Geoffrey Pyatt, who kept going out of his way to praise Greece as a “pillar of stability in the region,” ignoring SYRIZA’s backing of furloughs for a former leader of the disbanded Nov. 17 terrorist group that killed five Americans attached to the embassy he now leads, their lives lost in apparent vain as the US moved ahead with current interests and new friends.

FILE – U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis, left, shakes hands with FYROM’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, right, during their meeting at the government building in Skopje, FYROM, Monday, Sept. 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)

Pyatt warned that Russia would try to undercut the referendum after being unable to foment enough trouble to stop the deal even with Savvidis’ work.

He has been followed for years by US and Greeek intelligence officials as a member of Putin’s party, United Russia, when he was in the Duma, the lower House of Parliament, and made his fortune in tobacco before heading for Greece and Thessaloniki.

In June, American officials determined from the intercepts of his communications — email, texts, phone calls or a combination — that he had been paying protesters to try to stop the FYROM name deal that now could unravel on its own without him.

THE ELUSIVE SAVVIDIS

One senior United States official told the Times that US agencies were able to easily collect financial data that put Savvidis behind payments to citizens and soccer fans to incite violence against the FYROM referendum.

According to the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, an investigative reporting organization, Savvidis paid opponents of the campaign to rename FYROM at least 300,000 euros, or about $350,000, all while he was still facing an arrest warrant that apparently was never executed and while Tsipras did not try to stop him from working against SYRIZA’s deal and Greece, with no charges being brought.

FILE – Protesters wave Greek flags amid tear gas smoke during clashes at the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki, Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018. (Photo by Eurokinissi)

Those who received the money included FYROM politicians, new radical nationalist organizations and Vardar club soccer hooligans, who staged the violent protests in front of the Parliament building in Skopje, the project reported.

Savvidis strongly denied the accusations. “Totally false and highly slanderous,” his holding company said in a statement this past summer.

Pyatt brought the US intelligence report to Greek officials, the paper said, well-versed in dealing with Russia after his stint as United States Ambassador to Ukraine from 2013 to 2016, when Russia seized Crimea and backed separatist forces in eastern Ukraine.

“There’s not a trick the Russians can pull that Pyatt doesn’t know,” Senator Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut and a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, said in an interview with the paper. Murphy said he had spoken to Pyatt about Russia’s meddling in the FYROM referendum but wouldn’t provide details.

TSIPRAS BACKS US

While giving Tsipras the dope was easy, what he would do with it was a concern to the US given SYRIZA’s antipathy toward American interests and the Premier’s vow to take Greece out of NATO and remove US military interests in Greece.

Instead, Tsipras moved to help NATO by getting what would be North Macedonia into the defense alliance, sent Greek troops to Afghanistan after saying he would never have Greek forces in another country and is working with American military interests in Greece.

Trump hosted Tsipras in October, 2017 at the White House, and the two countries are discussing expanding the American military’s presence in Greece, including access for United States ships and aircraft.

FILE – President Donald Trump shakes hands with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras at news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

“If you look at geography, and you look at current operations in Libya, and you look at current operations in Syria, you look at potential other operations in the Eastern Mediterranean, the geography of Greece and the opportunities here are pretty significant,” Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during a recent visit to Athens.

As it turned out, it wasn’t hard to recruit Tsipras to be an American ally and renege on anti-American promises after three years his reneging on anti-austerity promises and warming to the Capitalists and bankers some in party still loathe.

The US national security establishment is trying to keep Greece in the Western sphere of influence, wary of Tsipras yet, given his Communist background. “We are cultivating Greece as an anchor of stability in the eastern Med and western Balkans,” A. Wess Mitchell, the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian affairs, said in June.

On July 11, Tsipras broke with Moscow, expelled the two Russian diplomats and accused them of trying to bribe unidentified officials and stir up demonstrations against the FYROM deal through Savvidis, who remains untouched.

“The constant disrespect for Greece must stop,” the Greek Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “No one can or has the right to interfere in Greece’s domestic affairs.” Except, apparently, Savvidis.

Jim Mattis speaks to Greek Defense Minister Panagiotis Kammenos, while US Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt stands next to the US Defense Secretary, during a meeting at the Pentagon, Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

After the Russian diplomats were booted, Pyatt triumphantly emailed a number of colleagues and former colleagues at the State Department and the Pentagon. Heather Nauert, the State Department spokeswoman, posted on Twitter after the announcement: “#Greece expelled two Russian officials and barred entry of two others for attempting to interfere in Greek politics. We support Greece defending its sovereignty. #Russia must end its destabilizing behavior.”

“The kind of mischief that Russia has practiced, from Macedonia to the United States,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters on Sept. 11, ahead of the Sept. 30 referendum, is “always beyond the pale as far as I’m concerned.”

He followed his remarks with a trip to Skopje to “make a specific statement that we stand with the Macedonian people,” he said, referring to FYROM as Macedonia, to the dismay of Greek critics of the deal, including Kammenos – who wants a greater US military presence in Greece. No word on Savvidis though.

6 Comments

  1. An alternative headline for this article could read: “American diplomats and media stir up trouble concerning Greece and its neighbors.”

    1. Now John ….your beginning to understand…..why would you believe the New York Times…who supported US. intelligence officials in selling the Irag war and formenting an invasion of Iraq based on false accusations that they had weapons of mass destruction!

      These are the same guys … that falsely said the leader of libya ..was commiting genocide in fighting against the Sunni Muslim Jihadist of Saudi Arabia…who just got caught assassinating a journalist in Turkey…who apparently …said what the U.S government will never do…bad things about the financial benefactor of the ruling parties in Washington!

      These are the guys…who falsely told the world that Syria and Russia had used chemical weapons on the civilians of Douma , Syria …and justified a war crimes bombing of Syria …which could have triggered world war 3! Importantly, …. the OPCW completed its investigation of the site… and determined no chemical weapons had been used in Douma, and more importantly, all evidence suggest a hoax…by the white helmet observers made up of Al Queda operatives,,,,and guess who pays their salary…. that’s right…the Ahepa Mason…Glory to America government and the Royal Family of the white supremacist anglo alliance in England.

      These are the same guys…who have accussed Russia of poisoning a Double Agent from Russia in England….who had been released from Russia for spying seven years ago…and whose only evidence is a poison compound …that could only be produced in the old Soviet Union! Again, this is a lie , since, this poison compound can be produced in a number of countries ….including the English lab…which is located about 3 miles from the Scene of the crime! All this to forment hostility towards Russia …to set up the bombing of Syria!

      Now you know…. why ….Donald Trump and the goon John Bolton …advised the U.N/ that they will not recognize the legitimacy of the International Criminal Court at the Hague…who is the international body to prosecute the leaders and governments of the world ..who commit blatant war crimes against Civilians. The reason …is because over a period of 25 years….the United States, Israel and its allies .Saudi Arabia, Turkey , Qatar and UAE….have killed more civilians in their actions ..than all the combined war since World War 2! The list is sitting on the table….. and only the traitors of the NYT…have not told you …. in order to continue the Global march to owning the sovereignty of the world!

      ON top of that….the Russian meddling and collusion charges….have now been charged against China…despite the fact that their is no evidence submitted to support any of these charges…except the word of the ….John Brennan and George Bush C.I.A degenerates. The only thing that has been accomplished ….is that they have used this to appropriate any billion dollars to put in thousands of American troops and missiles on the borders of Russia with the compliance of Poland …to a friendly occupation ….which is just one step closer to getting what they want ….Nuclear war in Europe and America! It is as simple as that …

      To highlight the depravity of the degenerates to forment wars… and feed the military contractors with orders ….the Russian collusion charges and meddling were claimed by Mad Dog Mattis , when he went to FYROM to Meddle in the political affairs of Fyrom …in trying to get the stolen identity of Greek Macedonians.approved by the people of Fyrom! Unfortunately , for the “Mad Dog” and their Nazi collaborators in Washington and Brussels…. the leader of FYROM …called him a Bald Face Liar!
      No ..it is not true that Russia has been meddling in our political process…and remain friends with our Russian neighbors!

      You see…. what Mad Dog forgot….was that the leader of Fyrom and it people …had not handed over the keys and sovereignty to Fryom, like the governor of the State of Greece….. since, he was still not a part of Nato or the EU!

      No Mad Dog…you may own Tsipras and Syriza . and ..most of the corrupt government of Greece….who with you …have crushed the future of Greece and our culture ….and turned us into …a welfare state!

      Today, Tsipras and Syriza …are preparing to grant more bases to the United States…. as demanded by Mad Dog Mattis…and for what purpose…not to defend Greece…but preparing to defend it ownership of Greece…when the natives decide it is time to stand up to their dictatorship….and the will do what the always do…. identify freedom fighters as terrorist …and following the myth …of the war on Terrorism …. justify the killing of Greek citizens attempting to recapture their country from Traitors!

      No one …in Greece …should allow any bases in Greece from the United States and Nato…because the will only bring destruction to Greece…. and make the enemies of the United States theirs….and make the friends of America ….theirs..like Turkey, Saudi Arabia , Israel , England and anybody else part of the Global war …which is now in full force …called Word War 3! Only the conclusion awaits us all…because of these Anglo White Degenerates…..who have a resume gong back hindreds of year in nation killing and colonization! These are criminals…and we better wake up …here in America!

    2. John …. what best describes the New York Times and the society of America lies….. is while lies are nothing new – didn’t Aletheia, the Greek goddess of truth, flee into the wilderness just last week and say to a wandering searcher, “Among the people of old, lies were found among only a few, but now they have spread throughout all of human society”? – we are living in a time of unprecedented technological media mind manipulation difficult to penetrate.

      Harold Pinter called it “a tapestry of lies” in which facts don’t matter. What happened never happened; what never happened happened. It’s all about believability in the NYT, CNN etc…. media’s hypnotic show, whose purpose Russell Baker described 25 years ago as being to “provide a manageably small cast for a national sitcom, or soap opera, or docudrama, making it easy for media people to persuade themselves they are covering the news while mostly just entertaining us.”

      Or as Daniel Elsberg said….after publishing the Pentagon Papers revealing the lies, atrocities, war crimes and misrepresentation of the waging of war against the people of Vietnam…which did what the media was concealing from us like …NYT and TNH as follows:

      “It is a tribute to the American people that their leaders and representatives perceived it
      necessary to lie to them to wage war….however…it is not a tribute to the Pubic that they
      could so easily be fooled” Daniel Elsberg – Pentagon Analyst.

      Don’t be fooled by these the same white supremacist of Britain and the United States with their media collaborators…who forment crisis… and then come to Greece ….to ask for more military bases!
      Throw them all out of Greece…EU, U.S. and Nato!….Their is no place for liars in Greece, Cyprus, or America, and for people who are actively working to initiate a Nuclear War with the World!

  2. Always been a Soviet Agent, hes a Fake Greek, should have been arrested months ago, but hes a friend of Tsipras, like Roubicon, FYROM, etc…

    Throw him back to Georgia….and take your butt buddy Tsipras with you….

  3. MIchael, the Iraq war was one of the most horrific acts i’ve witnessed in my lifetime. The way we were lied to by the Bush’s and Dick Cheney and the lives we destroyed and children we orphaned. We destroyed and destabilized a country that should’ve been our ally in the middle east. Yes Saddam was a dictator, but who else could control that country better than him? His children were horrible people that did horrible things, but so are many of our politicians here in this country. We were quick to judge and punish them when ours here were doing worse things. All for the sake of Oil and the few in power who made billions from it.

    1. Niko… what you expressed …is as real human being and Greek.Christian….not some white supremacist anglo evangelicals …. who are without souls….and now are so brainwashed by the NYT….and their financial benefactors of Billionaires…. consider the killing of 600,000 Iraqi’s ….an act of mercy!

      What they violate …will come back to haunt them and their children….. since, we in America …are ultimately , responsible for the death of 22 million citizens of the world ..since , the end of WW 2!
      Do you think ….this is condoned by God…..only satan could orchestrate this!

      Anybody, who has sat by and remained silent to these atrocities for the past 25 years ….. is not a patriot…but a traitor to humanity and God! It does not matter ….what these brain dead people call you and I…when they hide the real fact….that our society is now comprised ….of sociopathic white supremacists….who were joined by our immigrant Greeks….. not to fight their personal wars …but to simple get a job!

      When NYT promotes the exceptionalism of the United States …which is measured…. not by values., but how much money they can generate to fund their horror shows, ….what they are really saying… that we are Anglo white supremacist…who consider the countries of the world …like Greece…to be run by inferior species of humans…… and ignoring the cultures and history of these great nations!

      What people do not realize….is the media, government, and their billionaire benefactors….have been coordinating the control of our country …. to promote their racist policies, greed, and social engineering of our population ..to not only control us…..but to build their empire around the world!

      And this is nothing new…… it started in 1776…..when what we had…..was a bunch of White Anglo’s from our American Colonies….simply, deciding that the wanted to run America…not their brothers from England! However…. what was never lost ….was the white supremacy class mentality of the British ….that Aristocratic elitist …..should always be in control!

      Hence, the American civil war …was just another group of white supremacist from the South….who decided that ….they could not make as much money …. if they had to pay for the labor to work their plantations! Hence, the propaganda campaign ….. to sell the children of the masses … that their rights were being threatened …by a dictatorial president!

      The NYT….and the mainstream media ….are doing today ….what they have done since the beginning of the United states…..create an illusion of truth , Justice and the American way! Millions of the masses have been marched to their deaths for a handful of degenerates white supremacist …simply, trying to retain their power and family empire over the years! Do you think ….in the wars in Europe …it was to defend humanity form Tryranny! Hell,,,the Rothchild Bankers …were funding another so called Dictator …named HItler …to defeat the greatest threat to their financial empire …Communist Russia! Their was no ideological cause here…strictly,,,,one economic system …versus another!

      Niko…maybe in your lifetime …Iraq may be the most horrific crimes by these White Supremacist…who have only been made accountable for their actions …and appropriately, by the Greek Orthodox Clergy and caretakers of the Church of the Nativity….in Bethlehem ….. when they have banned Evangelical white supremacist …. Tony Blair, George Bush Jr. Dick Cheney, Rumsfeld , Wolfowitz… …. from ever entering the Church of the Nativity forever, for the slaughter of men , women , and children in Iraq!

      And that Niko… should be a message to not only them …but you and me….which is …..when there time comes…. their souls will forever …remain under the rumble of dirt they created. on earth…. and never to be elevated to enter God’s kingdom! I bet the NYT…never provided this intelligence information to the public!

      But what the NYT. does …is fool you…because killing 3 1/2 million Vietnamese , 20 percent of the population of North Korea ….in 1950, millions in Yugoslavia, Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afganistan, Yemen, and now working on Iran, Russia, China and anybody who gets in their way….can only be accomplished by the collaboration of a corrupt and cwardly media to conceal from the public the truth of what is going on!

      This is best expressed by Daniel Elsberg, the Pentagon analyst…..who authored the “Pentagon Papers”….. which revealed the lies , attrocities of the military and congress of the United States …to wage war for these White Supremacist in our government and military…which sent 60, 000 American children to their deaths…never to enjoy the gifts of having children and a family on this earth as follows: Something they have been doing for over 200 years !

      ” It is a Tribute to the American People that their leaders and representatives perceived it
      necessary to lie to them to wage war…however, ….it is not a tribute to the Public….that they
      could so easily be fooled” …..
      Daniel Elsberg – Pentagon Analyst – Vietnam War

      I identify these people as ….Degenerate Sadist….because anybody who is capable of selling wars and death like the NYT and the Mass media …to serve a bunch of degenerates …are themselves guilty of war crimes! Today…. even with the Fake News tag….they like robots continue to fulfill their obligations to the Secret Society of Degenerates, now in control of country!

      Unfortunately, the corruption is beyond repair, and we in America are impotent to stop them!

      Therefore….. you now know why the NYT…. continues their propaganda campaign against Russia…who is the only country capable of stopping their Global march… as seen in Syria! And that is why they are an enemy of America!

      And unfortunately….if Mr. Putin does not surrender Russia’s sovereignty like Tsipras has done in Greece…..then the Suicide Vests of Nuclear bombs strapped to the Degenerates of NYT and our society will be detonated…. and justice will be served….. and we will be forever buried under the rumble we created!

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