Ivan Savvidis, the Greek-Russian businessman and owner of PAOK Thessaloniki football club, raised eyebrows on Tuesday while pledging his support for Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras by saying that he reminds him of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Savvidis told the Proto Thema news site that he almost started clapping when he heard Tsipras’s speech in Parliament defending an amendment that wrote off a fine imposed on tobacco firm SEKAP, in which he owns a majority stake.
“I felt the same when I heard Putin in 2000,” he said.
The Russian businessman, who is also part of an investment group that recently bought out Thessaloniki port (OLTH), made no secret of his true colors, describing Tsipras as a “precondition for success in the future,” and blasted main opposition New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis as an “indifferent” politician who “will never be prime minister.”
He went on to say that Tsipras should take ND to court because it led the country to the situation it is in now. But he made an exception, saying that he “loves and respects” its former leader Costas Karamanlis, who was prime minister from 2004 until 2009.
According to analysts, Savvidis’s remarks came in response to Mitsotakis’s opposition to the government’s amendment writing off a fine against SEKAP.
He also reportedly turned against ND because of its stance toward him during last year’s controversial TV license auction and after the party had opposed another amendment which wrote off PAOK’s debts.