Athens, September 27, 2016/ Independent Balkan News Agency
By Spiros Sideris
Until yesterday the opposition was afraid of a Syriza channel being created as one of the four television license bidders was Vladimiros Kalogritsas who has a left-wing political affiliation. All the politicians of the major and minor opposition, systemic stations and publishers united in denouncing the government, accusing it of new corrupt practices in the media.
Reality, however, proved that there was no corruption involving the government as Vladimiros Kalogritsas lost his television license after failing to pay the first installment for it, even though he spoke of warfare against him this whole time which enforced his decision to drop out.
However, even before the background check of Ivan Savvidis, the first runner up of the television licensing tender, begun reports appeared about Vladimir Putin establishing a channel in Greece.
Ivan Savvides, a Greek expat of Pontian origin from Russia is a former member of the Russian Duma and has dominated Greek news many times with his political choices as well as the investments he has made.
His relations with Greece, did not begin with the decision to invest in the country. They had already started from the time he was elected president of the Federation of Greek Associations in Russia in 2004 and coordinator of the Council of Greek Expats in former USSR countries. As a member of the Russian Duma in 2007 he sat on a Committee for International Affairs in which he was responsible for consultative relations with the Greek Parliament.
In 2013, Ivan Savvides acquired the majority stake in one of the greatest football teams of Thessaloniki. He continued his investments with the acquisition of historic hotel “Macedonia Palace” and was the highest bidder for Tobacco Cooperative SEKAP.
Savvides’ deals and acquisitions in Greece, his Pontian descent and his ties to the party of Vladimir Putin have been the reasons many theories have been built around his name and aspirations.
His election and term in the Russian Duma triggered many reports about his political aspirations, such as the creation of a Pontian party that will run in Greek elections.
The more than 20,000 Greeks repatriated from the former Soviet Republics in Greece and integrated with local communities in Thrace and Macedonia would supposedly be the lever for his party along with the Greek originally from Pontus, thus serving Russian interests.
Many in Greece mention that the financial muscle of Savvides derives from Russian state funds as well from Putin himself in order for the latter to enter the Greek political arena. All these people forget, however, how many became millionaires in Russia with Boris Yeltsin turning a blind eye after the collapse of the USSR.
According to Forbes magazine, Ivan Savvides is among the 30 richest people in Russia and his motherland, Greece, is a country in economic suffocation; his investments may prove a shrewd move.
Whatever the case, between myth and reality, Ivan Savvides wants and is trying to be a strong player in Greece. But, to turn myth into reality in order to preserve conspiracy theories in Greece is not smart a smart choice at all. Neither politically nor economically.