ATHENS – Former premier and now major opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras, who had described himself as a man of the people, defended his leasing of a luxury seaside villa on the so-called Athens Riveria for 500 euros ($605.90) monthly.
Tsipras, who during his 4 ½-year reign also drew fire from detractors for using the Prime Minister's jet for family vacations, sending his children to expensive private schools and taking vacations on yachts, threatened to sue news outlets who reported his lease arrangement, said the business newspaper Naftemporiki.
The Legrena seaside settlement has a semi-secluded cove on the sea near the famed Cape Sounion promontory and the paper said the rent is four to five times less than the market rate.
Reacting to the firestorm of criticism, he posted on his Facebook page a copy of the lease and warned of legal action if the accurate stories aren't retracted after being embarrassed by their publication.
The residence is described as covering 142 square meters (10,764 square feet) a luxury property leased during the COVID-19 pandemic and during a second lockdown that has seen most people confined to their homes or apartments.
The ruling New Democracy said the property's owner recently listed it for 1.2 million euros ($1.45 million) and that it had been renovated at a cost of 20,000 euros ($24,234.40) to make it more luxurious.
Tsipras' attorneys sent extra-judicial letters to a well-known newspaper columnist and radio commentator as well as to the publisher of a staunchly anti-SYRIZA newspaper, demanding retractions, otherwise warning he will sue, the paper also added.
The government of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis pounced on the news after he had been embarrassed by allowing himself to be photographed without a mask while mountain biking during the lockdown, violating the health protocols he had mandated to fight the pandemic.
Trying to deflect criticism and blame Mitsotakis, the SYRIZA leader – dubbed a “champagne socialist” by his critics, said that, "This is not the first time that Mitsotakis has opted for mudslinging at his political opponents when he feels cornered."