Veteran leftist Kyrkos dies at 87

Veteran leftist politician Leonidas Kyrkos, one of the most respected political figures of his generation, died on Sunday at the age 87.

Kyrkos had been suffering from serious health problems recently and had was being treated at Aghia Olga Hospital in Athens. His funeral will take place on Wednesday.

Kyrkos was born in Iraklio, Crete, in 1924 and was a medical student during the World War II occupation. He was later a founding member of United Democratic Left (EDA) in post-civil-war Greece and was imprisoned in 1967 for his political beliefs. He spent five years in jail during the military dictatorship.

In 1968 he became a member of the breakaway Communist Party of the Interior. He led the party until 1987 when he joined the Greek Left (EAR). He was elected to Parliament five times and two European Parliament twice.

Kyrkos joined forces with former Communist Party leader Harilaos Florakis to form the Coalition of the Left and Progress, which served until 1993.

?Younger generations the whole left and all democratic people bid farewell to this tireless fighter,? said the leader of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Alexis Tsipras, who Kyrkos had been critical of in recent years.

Kyrkos had recently given his backing to the Democratic Left, which was formed last year.

?His passion for the renewal of the leftist movement was a constant message of hope ad optimism for all of us,? said Democratic Left leader Fotis Kouvelis. ?Goodbye dear friend.?