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Russian Spies Revealed Assassination Plot against Former PM Karamanlis

It sounds like a polit-thriller. And it looks as if there was an assassination plan against former conservative prime minister Costas Karamanlis and a whole plot to destabilize the country, in April 2008. After several months of investigation a prosecutor in Athens opened a criminal case ‘against unknown persons’ on Wednesday in a suspected plot to remove form PM Karamanlis from power.  Greek media report, the suspected plot was brought to light by a tip off from Russian spy agency FSB that informed the Greek National Intelligence Service ( EYP).

Under Greek law, charges can be brought against “persons unknown” when a specific suspect has not been identified. The conspiracy charge carries a maximum life sentence.

Costas Karamanlist served as prime minister between 2004 and 2009. Back in 2008, Karamanlis was seeking to improve energy ties with Russia and his government was negotiating over the South Stream pipeline project, which aims to transport Russian natural gas to Europe and was heavily unpopular at the time with the United States.

Greek daily To Vima reported that the plot had to do with the Bourgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline and that the telephone conservations between  Costas Karamanlis, Vladimir Putin and Georgi Parvanov were tapped. 

The criminal investigation is based on a document issued by the Greek intelligence service on 5 February 2009, the content of which was disclosed last summer. It stated the existence of a plan for the assassination of the former Prime Minister and of a new wave of tapping the telephone calls of politicians from Greece and abroad.

The document referred to a bulletin issued by the Russian Federal Security Service FSB, which is the successor of the Soviet secret service KGB. According to it, a group of 19 members of the FSB had arrived in Greece in March 2008. The reason for forming this group was “attempted tapping of the telephone calls between Kostas Karamanlis, the Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Bulgarian President at that time Georgi Parvanov.”

The bulletin of the Russian services stated, “the target of the specific group is to organize acts of “counter observation” in order to find the people following the Greek Prime Minister.” What the Russian commandos had found was a “plan to attack the former Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis to delay or thwart the country’s energy policy.”
As stated in the document, members of the Russian services had stood face to face with men, who had been following the car of the Greek Prime Minister, near Nea Makri at least once. This had happened between 20 and 25 April 2008 and, as noted, the “clash” had lasted not more than 30 seconds. However, “two suspects for organizing the assassination of the Prime Minister,” who had been travelling by a van fled the area by a motorcycle. Russians said that they had found in the van explosives and maps, proving that the plan to murder the Greek Prime Minister had been drawn by members of the Western secret services and the Israeli Mossad.

According to Greek officers, who held senior positions in the police and the intelligence services, “the Russian officer,” the author of the bulletin was a senior representative of the Russian embassy in Athens and the “person of contact” with the FSB. He has been living in Greece for years and is considered particularly experienced. After sending the bulletin by Russia, the case was transferred to the counterintelligence directorate of the Greek services.

 (To Vima Further Reading  via GR Reporter)

Speaking to Associated Press, Ioannis Corantis, who headed Greece’s National Intelligence Service at the time, said that he was among those called to give evidence in the case, and confirmed that the service had received information from Russia’s spy agency about a suspected plot against Karamanlis.

“The information was given to us by an official of the FSB,” said Corantis, who is now holds a parliamentary seat for the right-wing LAOS party.

“This concerns events that supposedly happened in April 2008. We at the NIS were informed in January or February of 2009. I am not in a position to say what could be investigated further by the special prosecutor,” he added.

Corantis did not give any details of the alleged plot or speculate who may have been behind it.

Corantis did not indicate whether Greece’s intelligence agency had independently confirmed the FSB information.

But he said he considered the issue “a very serious case. And since the public prosecutor has decided to file criminal charges … it is clear that this is serious and that it requires further investigation from the special prosecutor who will take over the case.”

The press reports published last summer said the NIS informed Karamanlis’ government in February 2009 about efforts to derail the country’s energy policy and that Karamanlis’ telephone conversations with then Russian President Vladimir Putin had become the target of wiretaps.( and further reading in AP)

In June 2011, Greek weekly magazine Epikaira  revealed the plan for the assassination of  Costas Karamanlis codenamed “Pythia 1″.  Accoridng to Epikaira the plan was allegedly carried out by “allied intelligence services” who had involved at least twenty Greek collaborators of them,  who “did not belong to the anarchist/terrorist area”. (Further reading in English Here)

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  1. This is still one strange story. When you read GRReporter it looks like it is not true at all. And why would Mossad be involved in this at a time when Greece became the substitute for Turkey?
    And last: Karamanlis was well known for doing nothing, ever. So, why would some interest group take offence to that?
    All in all it sounds like a political statement that concurs with those who think that there is no crisis at all in Greece, just a ploy to grab Greek wealth and sovereignty.

    • keeptalkinggreece

      doing nothing but business with Putin lol I agree, it’s a weird story, however we do not know all the details. Maybe he wants a political comeback and needs some sympathy?

      • That guy back?! OMG, please don’t even THINK about that! Compared with that bunch of crooks he had around him the PASOK bunch almost looked benign. And GAP, with all his faults, was at least showing signs that he was alive.
        But serious: In my live I have never been afraid of a politician. Not even Putin. Although those dead eyes of his gives me the creeps. But he and others are at least showing sometimes that they know what they are talking about.
        But now there is one politician that I am really afraid of. And that is Samaras. The way he went about to become PM at the cost of almost everything was one ominous sign that he want is ruthless in pursuit of his own self interest. But at least that’s common in politics and more often than not those people run into a wall one day.
        But when he talks recently about “Unnatural and provocative rise of prices” then it is one of two things. Either he knows he is talking utter rubbish and is again politicking with blinkers on, on the same level as his former roomy GAP was doing with “There is money”. And it is a confirmation of what I just wrote.
        Or he really does not know what he is talking about. Just lacking any shred of knowledge about economics and the people around him either are of the same level or they don’t dare contradict him. Because rising prices and falling wages is nothing new.
        All right it is nothing new since the 60s of last century and Milton Friedman even got his Nobel-prize for this (if I am correct). Something that used to be something thought to no happen, but countries like The Netherlands (80s) and more recently Brazil have lived through it. To put it simple: prizes of goods are not only dependent on demand but also on supply. When companies limit the supply of a product (for example because they have to cut back production), the prices of those goods will, at a constant demand, rise. While production is declining, the price goes up.
        And yes, increasing taxation is one of the aggravating factors. But so is taking all kind of deflationary measures like raising taxes to limit demand, lowering taxes to stimulate demand, limiting imports or stimulating export. They will make rising unemployment rise even higher
        Only thing that can get an economy out of this death spiral is confidence. And that is achieved by good governance and a honest and solid pact between all the participants in a countries economy. And even then it is very difficult to get out of.
        But it is as simple as that. And to not know of these things as a aspiring future PM of this country is even more scary then his powerplays. Because that would mean we will get a total fool as PM. And people who are powerhungry and stupid are utterly dangerous.
        That’s why I am afraid of Samaras.

    • Yeah, there’s very good reason to be sceptical of this story, with an eye on the source. Doesn’t make sense at face value. When we look at the history of foreign secret services conspiracies against governments, we see that in the vast majority of cases left wing government were targeted. But Karamanlis very obviously isn’t a “dangerous” socialist revolutionary. Not only is he right wing, he was also the rather irrelavant head of state of a quite unimportant (on the international scale) government. Where was there any good motive for a foreign power to violently remove him from office? If there had been any interest in that, it could have much more easily and less riskily be done by fabricating a scandal or bribing ND rivals into staging a revolt within the party.

      No, with the meager informations we have now, this story makes no sense, and we should rather wonder about the reasons for the Russians to go public with this now.

      • keeptalkinggreece

        it wasn’t the Russians that went public but the Greeks.

        • Yeah, but, excuse me pls, for Greece that’s nothing special. Every single day countless conspiracy theories are born, out of thin air. The important issue regarding this one is that the Russian secret service actually gave credibility to this with a public statement. That’s rather unusual, Moscow generally doesn’t volunteer secret informations. Without the Russians weighing in, this would simply be yet another unproven guesswork and no reasonable person would spend much time discussing that.

          So, it has to be asked, why do the Russians change their typically secretive behaviour in this case, and what does this say about the credibility of the story?

          • keeptalkinggreece

            because Greece was doing business with Russia while the USA was against? this could be the explanation if you read carefully this indeed very very long story

          • Go to the risky business (just look at Mossad’s screwup in Dubai!) of killing a prime minister in order to stop an international business deal? Nope, that’s not reasonable. Firstly, quite probably this wouldn’t stop the project (why should the new PM be against the deal?), and secondly, secret services could more easily do this by creating doctored “evidence” to trigger a scandal about one of the VIP’s involved. And the US, as the leading NATO member, a major arms supplier for Greece and the heavyweight in international finances really had and have more than enough leverage to prevent a deal that they seriously don’t want to see happen. No, sorry, but this doesn’t make much sense to me yet.

          • keeptalkinggreece

            the issue is not whether the story makes sense, as I bet not all the facts have come out. For me the point is why this story came official now.

          • All we can do is guess about that, ktg. Those “in the know” probably will never tell us why.

          • Kt, you think it’s possible that the US would assasinate a right wing government leader (a guy who is rather more supportive of the US than his rivals on the left!) to stop a project that could less riskily be prevented through other means? Then what do you think the Russians would do to get their deal through? Even the most critical consppiracy theories will admit that disinformation is a tool that is much more widely used by secret services than “terminations”! Not because of any ethical considerations,, but simply because it’s easier, cheaper, and much less of a risk. So, if you believe in a conspiracy, it’s a lot more realiistic to questionn the validitiy of the informations that are presented to the public!

            Really, the explanation that the Russians simply exploit an existing conspiiracy theory, and put additional fuel into the flames, in order to paint the opposition to their project as traitors makes much more sense.

  2. iaourti iaourtaki

    More “Greek Conspiracy”:
    When in beginning of 2010 more than 30 racist attacks happened only in the area of Chania and after an arson attack to the synagogue of Chania which is also a Cretan museum the American state department launched some press blabla regarding anti-Semitism in Greece. After a 2nd arson just a few days later against the synagogue 2 foreign soldiers and one Greek got arrested and two more soldiers escaped into Souda NATO base.
    May be it was just “normal” anti-Semitism or drunken bullshit by 2 British trainers of Special Forces and two members of US Special Forces – the Greek was a delivery driver for Souda – but the strange thing was that after the arrests the whole story escaped from (international) press…
    Any Pulitzer around?

  3. Yoghurt’s article, absolute nonsense.

    I doubt seriously that US Forces were involved or a cover-up is involved. I have friends who are stationed at Souda now, and the Commander is very strict to any US Forces that embarass the base, or the Greek community. In fact, I’ve heard that in many cases the base will offer any offending military person to the local prosecuter for the maximum sentence. This is a deterrent to any drunken sailors etc.

    This article that yoghurt posts is typical leftist, conspiracy theory propaganda.

    • keeptalkinggreece

      this nonsense is short version and translation on an article published by mainstream Ethnos newspaper. Check out the link above, please.

  4. Who says Ethnos is fair, as most in the diaspora know that most Greek press won’t ever be accused of being pro-American . What I remember reading in the foreign press was that the Brit involved was a bouncer at a local club.  The American, a friend of his,  had no connection to the American base. But does it really matter as when one has cultivated a point of view, it’s easier to believe what suits your view. Especially in conspiracy theory rampant Greece.