Russians ‘uncovered plan to kill Greek prime minister’

Kostas Karamanlis

K. Karamanlis

A Russian counter-surveillance team operating in Athens in 2008 confronted a foreign team from “a country allied to Greece”, which planned to kill Kostas Karamanlis, then Greece’s Prime Minister. The revelation, published in the current issue of Greek weekly newsmagazine Epikera, is allegedly based on a Russian briefing contained in a classified document authored by the Greek National Intelligence Service (EYP). According to the document, the assassination plot was code-named Pythia and was hatched by the intelligence agency of “a country allied to Greece”. It was aimed at preventing Athens from signing on to a series of energy pipeline deals with Moscow. The 19-member Russian counter-surveillance team mentioned in the EYP document had allegedly been set up a few months earlier by the FSB, Russia’s primary foreign intelligence agency. The team was deployed after the Russians realized that that Prime Minster Karamanlis’ telephone calls with Russian leader Vladimir Putin were being intercepted by foreign spies, at least two of which were allegedly British citizens. According to the Epikera article, between April 20 and 25, while shadowing the Greek Prime Minister in the Nea Makri area, just north of Athens, a four-member Russian counter-surveillance team faced off two spy operatives of “a country allied to Greece”. Thirty seconds into the face-off, the foreign operatives, who were well built, spoke Greek, and did not appear to be carrying weapons, abandoned a car they were riding and left the scene using a motorcycle that did not bear license tags. According to the EYP document quoted in Epikera magazine, Russian officials notified the Greek government of the incident, as well as the alleged assassination plot. Russia, Bulgaria and Greece are currently working on plans to construct the trans-Balkan oil pipeline, which would enable Russia to transfer oil from Novorossiysk to the Aegean Sea while bypassing the Turkish Straits. If completed, the project, known as the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline, will facilitate an alternative oil route to the Western-sponsored Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, and will constitute the first-ever Russian-controlled pipeline on European Union territory. Mr Karamanlis’ conservative government, which ruled Greece from 2004 until 2009, actively pursued strong energy partnerships with Russia.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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