Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Crazy Iwan

Those who have seen the movie "The Hunt for Red October" will remember that a "crazy Iwan" was the maneuver by which Russian submarine captains attempted to check whether they were followed by another submarine. The whole world now knows that there is an Iwan in Greece who is being followed by 4 bodyguards. The pictures of crazy Iwan storming the soccer field in Thessaloniki with a gun at his hip and surrounded by 4 big time bodyguards have made it even into regional newspapers in Germany and Austria and elsewhere!

I have written about Iwan Savvidis on several occasions. Examples are here, and here and here. There is one question nobody seems to answer: Why does a "vulture oligarch" whose wealth does not seem to be very extraordinary at all, why does this man need 4 big time bodyguards to protect him?

This man has done incredible damage to Greece's reputation, and I would suspect that he has also done quite significant damage to Greece's wealth: he acquired Greek assets through shady deals and 20 MEUR of his tax debt were forgiven.

Alexis Tsipras and SYIZA have obviously invited Savvidis into their bed some time ago. They obviously did not check him for contagious diseases before doing that. They have now been infected by Savvidis and it will be most interesting how they plan to cure that disease.


  1. Savvidis is bad news. A Putin guy, tobacco business monopolist, control of the Thessaloniki port (perhaps favoring Russian commerce in the Balkans).

    On more positive news:


  2. Kleingut:

    Even though I am not a Savvidis supporter by any stretch of the imagination, it's better we put the record straight.

    Your "acquired Greek assets through shady deals" is not a factual determination but rather a political propaganda type. Savvidis back in 2013 (when Samaras and Venizelos were demolishing Greece in a wholesale fashion) acquired an asset from the Agricultural Bank through competitive bidding. This asset had a 30 Mil. euro penalty assigned to it from Ag Bank's bad management practices. So Savvidis acquired the asset subject to such liability being erased otherwise the asset value would be negative and could not be sold. But the key here is that it was a Samaras-Venizelos era deal.

    Savvidis then proceeded to acquire the Macedonia Palace hotel in Thessaloniki through competitive bidding, bought the PAOK soccer (football) club, bought the port of the Thessaloniki as part of a consortium and he attempted to buy media/TV deals.

    It was that last attempt that made the Greek establishment nervous because media/TV was always in the hands of ND/Pasok and to allow a newcomer to enter into that market (perhaps to promote the Syriza brand) was anathema to many.

    Again, I do not like Savvidis and his style but the 20 MEUR tax debt forgiven would have to be given to anyone who bought an ailing organization and quite mismanaged on top of it.

    So, it's o.k. to say that Savvidis is a shady character but not o.k. to attribute to him things that didn't do however his opponents think that he might do someday. It's obvious that Savvidis thinks nothing of ND and PASOK. This makes him a political target. He is very prone to do bad things but let's wait until he actually does them.

    I wouldn't go near him but his wearing a gun and being under protection by the police speaks of other problems in the mafia type world he lives in.


    1. What do think about Alexander Clapp's article in the American Interest? Last link.


    2. I think it was an excellent article and he previewed developments which now, quite some time later, Greek media are echoing, i. e. the creation of a new class of oligarchs.

    3. L.:

      I think we have a classic catch 22 here. Who created Savvidis and other Savvidis like opportunists

      "Under the guise of performing a house-cleaning of the Greek economy, Brussels will continue to push the relentless privatization of assets that has afforded oligarchs like Savvidis the cover for quiet state capture."


    4. No, Dean. The decision which foreign investor to favor is Greece's, and only Greece's. Now it may be that only shady investors like Savvidis line up to purchase Greek asset but in that case Greece should have the courage to simply say no. Except for Cosco, I have not yet seen any other foreign investor that I would have accepted as a foreign investor.

  3. Savvidi was elected to the Russian Duma in 2003 and 2007 with United Russia, which was previously led by President Vladimir Putin.

    In August last year, Savvidi acquired around one fifth of Greece’s Mega Channel from Greek businessman Fotis Bobolas for a consideration of €5m. Two months later, Savvidi sold his stake to Cyprus’ Elenovo Ltd, a company headquartered in the same building which houses the Limassol-based law firm Andreas Sofocleous and Co. LLC.

    In July 2017, Savvidi also acquired two Greek newspapers, Ethnos, including its Sunday edition, and Imerisia, plus their logos for a total of €3.6m.

    The newspapers were also affiliated with the Bobolas family, a member of which was implicated two years ago in a waste scandal.

  4. Thanks to Savidis antics; Syriza, EPO, UEFA FIFA have no choice but to punish mpaok harshly. I feel bad for the healthy ban, however for the crownies they will get what they deserve.

    And AEK will rightfully win the championship :-).

    Savidis is bad news for Greece from an investor pov.


  5. Kleingut:
    Kleingut: "Der Spiegel" article you linked to in your look at the Thessaloniki port deal, the first time you stumbled across Savvidis, the lately Crazy Ivan, eems to rely on this Financial Times information:

    Same date, no author. I was close to ask them why they don't add the Cyprus cover Ltd. But now, I assume that was their source. Shoddy work, or simply covering up their source?

    Maybe it's time to look closer into this again:found a better business database


    I agree Goetz Partners seems to act in the background. Not least since the now second CEO/GF joined Goetz Partners Zurich in Jan. 2018. While von Mellenthin left in 2013, or simply gave up his job as CEO? In that and a Swiss database we find an additional link to a Venture Capital Enterprise and a Baker & Mckenzie Partner, a female lawyer in France, in a Wealth management advisory function. It feels. But I have to sort out the links.

    Thanks for keeping an eye on matters. Would have missed Alexander Clapp, colorful American Interest article. He seems to be based in Athens.


    1. Savvidis first attracted my attention when I heard that he had bought one of my favorite beaches in Chalkidiki, Paliouri Beach. I wrote about this on September 5, 2014. When I asked about him, I heard that he had also bought the Makedonian Palace Hotel in Thessaloniki (from IKA, I believe). Then the following year my already negative opinion was confirmed when I learned that he had struck a tax amnesty deal with the government. So the Thessaloniki port deal was only the icing on the cake which cake had already assumed a very bad smell. That's when I wrote that "Savvidis is a foreign investor of the type which Greece should not touch even with a ten-foot pole!"

      The SPIEGEL article I found afterwards and included it as an addendum to my article a day later. By that time I had already done my own research.

    2. Kleingut: I realized you added the link to the Spiegel later, at least I don't recall it was there at the time.

      But they do a good dive and cover in Munich, if you look at the papers in the German Handelregister.

      There you realize the different firms you'll find online. But it is really hard to grasp without context. Or a closer look. No any usual partnership contract present other then a shift to get partners in the invest region. I surely would like to see the real files in Munich. Seen dubious matters that had one angle there. Like Shelf-Corporations sold there for corporation burial. But that was clearly more the criminal field. This is, I guess, highly professional.

      Von Mellenthin is clearly still connected with Goetz and Partner. At least at least one document he signs with a CEO in the larger Swiss link suggests that. What's interesting is that he started out in the Treuhand, eastern German sell-out.

      If I were journalist located in Munich, I'd take a closer look at the folders. Including Goetz and Partners.

    3. I worked in Munich from 2003-10 running the German operations of an Austrian bank. Munich is full of private equity firms and I thought I had known or heard of most of them. Deutsche Equity Invest GmbH had never appeared on my radar. As I said in my article at the time, this is a most curious outfit. When you now tell me that one of their principals had a Treuhand background, my suspicions get worse. Many of those who dealt with Treuhand were quite corrupt and made tons of money by stripping East German assets.

    4. You are the expert, I am the more, more than that really, superficially, looking in on what needs expert on matters. More nitwitty looking in on matters.

      But the new CEO connecting to the enterprise, while German, is clearly connecting to Zurich superficially and there to a Swiss Eguity enterprise.

      [I do have peculiar shifts between German and English on my keyboard lately, this does not happen usually. ... would need to ponder what could cause this]

      anyway, really superficially, and I certainly had never any reason to check or for that matter register in Switzerland to get more detailed information. In the larger Kohl affair, as in many other cases I did in fact respect their work. Never mind where they ended over here. Or for that matter how it ended for the respective judge to take charge of it:

      via Monetas Swiss: Piz Ventures Capital AG

      Maybe Lennard knows how real or present they are really. Didn't check IP's.

    5. What's interesting is that he started out in the Treuhand, eastern German sell-out.

      sorry, twice sorry, really. But it feels one should not leave disinformation on the web. Not even in the heat of the moment. Surfaced somewhere, maybe I picked up some other disinformant's traces. ...,+Alexander,+Gr%C3%A4felfing/1

      Anyway, Goetz and Partners, is a somewhat hard to figure out business. Not least due to is diverse partners, takeovers? or angles. As nitwit I probably shouldn't connect arbitrarily dots from my memory and limited insight universe. But then? I have to admit, in a bigger case of gray vs "white" market the authorities, to the extend the bothered at all, only scraped on the surfaces in one case over here. As I found out in a business register relocated to my city after. It was obvious the clerks must have been deeply asleep. ... bankruptcy fraud. ... I also knew some things the authorities couldn't know then from a personal level.

      If you look at Alexander von Mellenthin via the South African-Britain lens he has a background in banking. ... And yes, I did deeply dislike the fast attempt to privatize East Germany, seems Sinn did too, I do have basically the same concerns about Greece. But von Mellenthin is no doubt a busy man. Superficially South Africa-Britain - France - Germany

      On the other hand I can see that the central problem is the same in these scenarios. High times for vultures.

      Second sorry, used wrong reply button below.



    Donskoy Tabak is part of Agrokom Group.

  7. Crazy Ivan just sold his tobacco company for $1.6 Billion to the Japanese. The sale includes the Greek SEKAP which Savvidis bought from the Agricultural Bank.


    1. I would bet you that Savvidis, despite a 1,6 BEUR sales price, does not now have 1,6 BEUR in his pocket. I would bet you that the man is not only a crook but a good con man à la Trump. I would further bet you that Savvidis financed his Greek investments with loans from Greek banks.

      I think the man is terrible news for Greece. I wonder on what basis he has residence in Greece? Did he perhaps buy a Greek passport at some corrupt Greek consulate in Russia for 800 Euros? Or what is his status? If his status is something like a resident alien (as opposed to citizenship or permanent residence, I think the government should check whether he violated the conditions of his residence and expel him, if that were only possible in the slightest. That would be a powerful message. But then, again, if he is really linked to Putin, the Greek government is at the mercy of Savvidis. Congratulations!

    2. A cynic the man is, too!

      “My emotional reaction stems from the widespread negative situations prevailing in Greek football lately and from all the unacceptable, non sports-related events that took place towards the end of the PAOK-AEK Athens encounter: the actions of the referee and his assistant, the match suspension, the protests and invasion on the pitch by many people from both sides. All that could lead to uncontrollable situations. My only aim was to protect tens of thousands of PAOK fans from provocation, riots and casualties. Please believe I had no intention to engage in a brawl with our opponents or the referees. And I obviously did not threaten anybody.” (The Guardian)

      Thank God he intervened to protect the fans!!! Just think what else could have happened. An ordinary soccer game might have come to an ordinary conclusion.

    3. We all agree Savvidis is bad news. The problem is as follows: Savvidis is a Pontic Greek (Black Sea area Greek), Thessaloniki is full of Pontic Greeks and other Asia Minor refugees and the man is using a popular football team in the north to deliver an anti-establishment message against the south (meaning Athens).

      Why would the Germans (who saw the value of Thessaloniki during WWII) allow the Russians and Savvidis to take control of the most important city in the Balkans is another question. (To me the Balkans stop somewhere in the middle of Greece) because Athens and its various neighborhoods are a totally different story and always at odds with Thessaloniki and what Thessaloniki represents.

      So the real question is: who effed up and allowed Savvidis in?

      My own answer is that it was the Independent Greeks(Syriza's eurosceptic coalition in government) and the Far Right who worship the Russians for some reason and actually they have woven into the popular folklore an improbable story that "the Russians (the blond nation) will conquer Constantinople and hand it over to the Greeks" (Father Paisios prophecy). So when you get Byzantine Greek Orthodox religion, Russians and even enclaves like "Agion Oros" (a separate religious state with a state) what comes out in the other end is a very weird mix.

      Welcome to the part of Greece which will never be understood by Europe and please try to enjoy.


    4. I enjoy Thessaloniki very much, otherwise I wouldn't spend ca. 5 months out of every year there. And I believe I have become quite acquainted with the mentality/culture of Northern Greece (i. e. Makedonia). When we first got our apartment back in 2009, I read Mark Mazower's "City of Ghosts" and that was an eye opener. I asked friends how someone could write such a biased book. Like Thessaloniki had been the major metropolis for hundreds of years and not Athens. And then I was educated that Mazower was right, that Thessaloniki had indeed been the major metropolis for hundreds of years, an uninterrupted city history of 2.300 years, and that Athens was practically non-existent for hundreds of years and that, by the time of the independence war, Athens was a small village of 4.000 and Thessaloniki was the Paris of the South-East of Europe. Well, we never learned that in school.

      The issue of the Pontic Greeks is right home to me because our apartment is in Kalamaria where the Pontics were originally settled. Stephanos Tanimanidis (the father of Sakis) is a very good friend of ours and since he was/is a big shot with the Pontics, I have had my earfuls from him.

      There are probably not many large cities which have been formed and shaped by so many cultures. When I want to upset my Greek friends, I tell them that Thessaloniki is not really a Greek city because so much different blood flows in the veins of its citizens (on a serious note I daresay that the Greeks did quite a bit of ethnic cleansing to make Makedonia so Greek today). I really enjoyed the novel "The Thread". But I would say this: to this very day, there are Greeks in Makedonia and there are Pontics. On the surface, one can't tell the difference but deep down, they do differentiate amongst themselves and there are still some prejudices. My ultra patriotic Greek wife was once in a discussion where a Pontic claimed that it was really the Pontics who built up Greece. Well, he was lucky to get away from my wife alive. Allow me a personal observation: totally wrong he was not!

      But the 'plague' nowadays seems to be the Russo-Pontics. Whether Greek of Pontic, when it comes to the Russo-Pontics, they both become racists. Sometimes I think they can better live with the Albanians than with the Russo-Pontics. I am sure you will be able to explain to me why. I can't tell.

      So, I have spent considerable time in Makedonia in recent years and I can confirm the following: Greeks are not racists at all, except when it comes to Albanians, Russo-Pontics (and perhaps Pontics as well). Leaving aside the Bulgarians and Romanians and not even mentioning the Turks.

    5. Kleingut:

      You are up to speed then. And you know that I was born in Thessaloniki too. Which makes Thessaloniki my favorite major Greek city. But I have been away for such a long time and I am not sure I know what exactly is going on in terms of players, politics and the like. I can only speculate within range.


    6. "on a serious note I daresay that the Greeks did quite a bit of ethnic cleansing to make Makedonia so Greek today"

      Care to explain?

    7. The population of today's Makedonia included Slavic and Greek speaking Christians, Turkish and Albanian speaking Moslems, Vlachs, Jews, Gypsies, etc. I believe prior to the population exchange the 'true' Greeks were below 50%. Where are these minorities now? (except for the Turks who returned to Turkey and the Jews who were deported by the Nazis). Greece has consistently denied the existence of minorities. There has been forced assimilation, Slavic names were Hellenized, evidence of Slavic history was destroyed, particularly after the Civil War forced assimilation and persecution, 'language oaths' administered in villages, etc. etc. If Makedonia is 99% Greek today (except for the Muslim minority in Thrace), it's not because all the other minorities have voluntarily emigrated.

      Greece has a terrible record as regards treatment of minorities beginning with the political statement that there are no minorities in Greece. Thus, Greece doesn't file minority reports as required by the UN (I believe). I recall many years ago a minority person was jailed for 15 months because he showed a map with the location of minorities.

      This is one of the black spots in Greek history, just like the support of Milosevic and Karadicz and the participation of Greeks in the Sebrenica massacre.

    8. So you seriously think that all these minority populations of Macedonia (and Greece in general, I guess) were "ethnically cleansed"?

      FYI, the Greek population of Macedonia before 1922 was a little above 40%

      Nevertheless, that doesn't excuse what you're doing; that is, you're hinting at and very carelessly conflating so many and so greatly different from one another cases, that one can't help feeling you're doing it on purpose.
      I also think that - for whatever reasons - you're taking at face value very suspect allegations stemming from neighbor Balkan nationalisms. In this context, I'm surprised you forgot to mention even Bulgarian grievances…
      Finally, your historical amalgamates and harsh ruling is even more striking - and that's what triggered me - compared with your very careful and PC (to a fault!) restrain when at least giving us that they were the " Nazis" who "deported" Sephardi Jews from Thessaloniki...

      So, in the end, are you sure you were not awfully quick and even happy to throw words like "ethnic cleansing " (and quite a bit of it!) around?


    9. PS. And no, Sotiris Bletsas was never jailed for 15 months...

    10. To the extent that 'ethnic cleansing' can also mean mass murder and genocide, I emphatically state that I did not refer to that. Instead, I referred to the systematic forced removal of ethnic or racial groups from a given territory by a more powerful ethnic group, often with the intent of making it ethnically homogeneous. I do not follow any Balkan sources so I cannot have used them. Instead, here is one of my sources:

      Mind you, there probably is not a nation in the world which does not have black spots in its history. The Americans are now re-discovering that many of their Founding Fathers had been slave owners, Austria has taken almost half a century to admit that they were not only victims but very forceful and enthusiastic perpetrators of National Socialism, etc. If there is a difference with Greece, it's that Greeks take pains to deny the black spots in its history.

      I certainly don't want to make an issue of this and this will be the last comment I make on it. The treatment of the Slavic population in Northern Greece is historically well documented. So is the treatment of the Cham following the Civil War. The non-compliance with UN requirements to publish minority reports is a fact. And anyone who has travelled the area of Fiorina, Kastoria, etc. knows that even to this day there is a Slavic minority in Greece.

      As I said, this is my last comment on the subject.

    11. I should add: whenever I come across subjects which are very sensitive to Greeks, I discuss them with my Greek friends before I put anything in writing.

    12. I partially agree to an extent that Macedonia as described above is with and was with various minorities. And of course all the above is modern history.

      However when a modern society tries to acquire a background which is Greek and it's ancient history (supported by real historians) baptize it under the cloak of territorial region then it is a joke. If these people seek to be macedions(greek) then they simply need to be annexed.

      But that would not fit the agenda.

      Personally I find the UN a useless broken tool.


    13. Kleingut:

      The reason why the minorities topic is very sensitive is this:


    14. Kleingut and V:

      Since we are the topic if Savvidis, please bear in mind that in the 19th century there was a real Pan-Slavic plan (with Russia front and center pushing it) of expanding Slavic influence to the Aegean which created the basis of the Macedonian conflict. Which makes all more fascinating why the Greeks feel a kinship to Russians thinking that Russia is a friendly force (enter Savvidis and the Greek Pontiacs) when in fact Russia in many occasions could care less about the Greeks and in fact plotted openly against them (I blame the orthodox church for such gross misdirection).

      V is absolutely correct when he says that any attempt by Slavic elements to misappropriate Greek symbols and Greek history is a straight invitation to annexation.

      And before we start crying about rights of minorities in Greece please think for a second whose revisionist agendas these latter-day stories actually represent/serve.

      The reality is this in the Balkans: There is a struggle for Russian influence whose purpose is access to the warm waters of the Mediterranean. The core of the Russian influence in the Balkans is Serbia. To a lesser extent Bulgaria and other Slavic countries. Turkey is trying to exert influence on religious grounds (supporting Muslim populations of Bosnia and others such as the sizeable Bulgarian Muslim minority close to 2 Million). Germany and your beloved Austria have many old scores to settle in the Balkans in trying to stem Russian expansionism.

      This is a long topic and I would like to close with a simple factual statement. The whole basis for the "Macedonian Problem" which is tormenting Greece and certainly affects the mood Thessaloniki was a Byzantine mistake of administration. Whereas the whole world knows ancient Macedonia to be pretty much within the geographical area of today's Greek province of Macedonia(and with its center 22 km from Thessaloniki), there was this certain Byzantine princess Irene who for administrative purposes of ruling the area from Constantinople shifted a new contrived notion of the Macedonia province further to the east which included mostly present-day Bulgarian and today's Greek Thrace territory. And this is how this endless game of "to whom Macedonia belongs began". By a deliberate Byzantine administrative decision is the answer which is another element of cruel irony: that the two entities which the Greeks consider favorable to them i.e. Byzantium and Russia are in fact a considerable source of their own troubles.

      Try please explaining this simple truth to your Greek friends and find out how biased and misinformed they are. I bet you they have no clue about the correct framing of the Macedonia Problem. Start the conversation by asking your Greek friends of Thessaloniki how much they know about Princess Irene and the Byzantine Macedonia province and ask them to sketch it on a piece of paper. Don't be surprised about the answers you get because they will be all over the map.


    15. That may well be your last comment on the matter and it's perhaps for the best since you first moved the goalposts and then repeated the mix-ups of your previous comment.

      By the way, since you don't follow Balkan sources, and leaving aside your Greek friends, you will be surprised to find out, if you ever search for, that there is an extended bibliography in Greek or by Greek scholars on the treatment and mistreatment of minorities in Greece. So you're pushing at open doors, at least when it comes to this rather elevated level of discourse. As for the general public, people there are certainly less enlighted, but, while disappointing, this is hardly yet another of your Greek "failings", since I know fully well from personal experience that this is also very much the case in US, UK, France, definitely Austria (where absolutely everything goes especially during electoral campaigns) and - despite very loud claims otherwise - in Germany itself!

      (I put the "failings" inside quotation marks since I'm not sure what is point where this "woke" statement: "but at least we're talking about it", begins to sound like grotesque boasting and ridiculous hypocrisy, especially when coming from powerful nations…)


    16. Good for Greece! A lot of taxes are coming Greece's ways when someone makes so much money. After all, Savvidis' residence is Greece and wherever the residence is, worldwide income is taxed. The government will soon be flush with cash!

    17. To Dean at March 17, 2018 at 3:41 PM

      Part 1
      Although I may understand where you're coming from (Greek-American), fact is your take on Byzantium is completely screwed up! Since I wouldn't know where to begin with that, I'm just leaving you with this:

      I know it's a rather long and heavy read, not strictly scientific (not peer-reviewed) by a rather peculiar (to say the least) writer but it remains adequately researched and most importantly benefits from the charm of an outsider looking in and being astounded by the "conspiracy" he uncovers! (Although his "discoveries" are in fact widely recognized and discussed amongst historians, albeit as a relatively recent development of the 80's and onwards - even Wikipedia has somewhat caught up.)

      Allow me a couple of points: Macedonia as an administrative region of the Roman Empire has always been fluid, same as the province(s) of Greece. Empress Irene or not Skopjans would have latched onto the name and identity anyway because they had need of it when they first became independent in the early 90 and perhaps they still do.
      I'm speaking of the Roman empire because there has never existed a thing such as a "Byzantine Empire" at least not until the middle of the 16th century when a… German came up with name remembering that the ancient city of Byzantium used to stand where the City (Πόλη) is. In fact a "Byzantine" on the streets of Constantinople would have most probably never heard of this "Byzantium"-thing, he would have called himself first a Christian and then a Roman (Ρωμαίος and eventually Ρωμιός)and he would have denied being Greek, at least as far as ca. 1204 when he would have find himself opposed to the barbarous Φράγκους or Λατίνους (mind you, they never reserved the term "Roman" for these western invaders…) - although the people concerned with identity questions, i.e. the intellectuals, would have long before that recognized that of course Hellenismus is theirs as their θύραθεν παιδεία (their non religious education and cultural reference) which they funnily enough considered vastly superior to the Latin, i.e. classic Roman one!

      To be continued...

    18. To Dean on March 17, 2018 at 3:41 PM

      Part 2
      As for Hieronymus Wolf, that aforementioned German, he invented "Byzantium" as a means to deny this reality stripping the Eastern Roman Empire of its historical heritage so that he can claim "Romanitas" (and even "Latinitas") for his emperor, i.e. the ruler of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation that famously "was in no way holy, nor Roman, nor an empire" nor… of the German Nation, I would have added! Now, the reason this falsification caught on - aside from past grievances between East and West - was that claiming to be the rightful heirs of the Imperium Romanorum was something that almost all European states used to do, from Paris to Moscow, in order to justify their expansionism. The most, if not successful, at least innovative, were the British who took that tired old notion and transformed it into that of the still going Western world , where they initially placed only their dearest selves, begrudgingly the French and the most… exotic and comically oversexualized Italians! In fact, their little grouped expended or shrinked according to the each time prevailing imperial interests and ideology. Last but not least, the Germans after they realized that the Roman label would not stick they fancied themselves the new and improved Greeks (!) before settling for being the natural conclusion of all the best ancient civilizations have ever produced throughout the world before finally settling once and for all in the fatherland!

      Given all that, I always find it sad to hear Greeks repeat all those long debunked and yet still circulating calumnies against "Byzantium". Something tells me you're one of those people who also believe Byzantium "killed" Ancient Greece, probably ignoring or finding a way to side-step that almost none of those famed Greek written monuments would have perished had it not been for those Greek-speaking medieval Romans… Again, there is a long and interesting history behind these ideologically conceived great narratives of European historiography who worked hard to make Byzantium synonymous with "byzantine" (the worst offender being Gibbon) and the reason Greek intelligentsia sheepishly adopted these dishonest stories, but I don't have the time to expand upon and besides part of it is covered in the link I provided. For my part, the best aphorism I've ever read about Modern Greek identity is the we are "romanized Hellenes or Hellenistic Romans" (ρωμαϊκοί Έλληνες ή ελληνιστικοί Ρωμαίοι)!

      PS. You're right nonetheless about the unmerited and wholly displaced appreciation of Greek nationalists towards Russia, who has always acted as any other Great Power would. The Church is to blame.


    19. Kleingut:

      How do you suppose that the profits of a layered organization based in Russia would ever result to beneficial tax for Greece because Savvidis is a Greek resident?

      The profits will be rolled over into new ventures and no one will ever see a penny of taxation from such deals.

      I take it it was just a sarcastic comment.


    20. Lykinos/Lykine:

      The way you explained it created new conflicts for me. All of a sudden I feel much closer to the German position on Ancient Greece and that's a tremendous self-awareness moment because it makes me a lost German child who is fighting against its own people. Never would have thought that such calamity would befall on me; to be discovered to be German in my views after all.

      Let me just explain. For starters, I am a born Greek who immigrated to the US at the age of 24. My children both born on American soil are Greek-American or Colombian-American if you want to bring their mother into the picture (whose family ancestral name is traced to a German town close to the Austrian border).

      So, my views are not typical Greek-American; in fact, I would call them very atypical of Greek-American views. Greek-Americans use the Greek church as an identifier and I, on the other hand, want nothing to do with it.

      My reasoning is very simple:

      1. To be Greek means to be a person of reason and science.
      2. The Eastern Roman Empire/Byzantium/Orthodox Church is a form of complete darkness (faith-based construct) which is in direct conflict with science and reason, hence by definition anti-Greek.
      3. If you call me Romios (or Rum as the Turks call us) then I would probably be deeply offended.
      4. An empire which issues the Edict of Thessaloniki, whose only purpose is the forceful conversion of classical Greeks to Roman Christian citizens has nothing to do with Greek values. In my opinion, it has everything to do with anti-Greek values and as such is rejected on purely logical grounds.
      5. This incredible and highly abnormal stronghold a foreign Roman religion (which you know as Christianity) has on the modern Greeks is the source of all troubles for Greece. If you want to truly reform Greece you need to start with the Greek church. Its vast real estate holdings need to be confiscated by the state, its sizeable tax bills need to be enforced and its freeloading on state salaries need to stop yesterday.
      6. There is no way for Greeks to ever prosper as a nation if their notion is that their true capital (which according to the false religion is Constantinople) is the only European capital still remaining under occupation. This fact alone paralyzes Greeks into inaction and fatalism. It makes us victims of a continuous trauma.

      Not that it matters, but you sound as a member of the Left which considers being a Romios as the only form of true Greece because the Ancient Greece staff is for the nationalists and fascists?

      Kleingut, help me, please. Are there any openings in Germany for me? At least as a German slave I would still be allowed to hold high notions of Greece while reminded daily that I am nothing similar to my ancestors. I might even have a fighting chance versus being swallowed by the eastern tendencies which although familiar are still alien to the Greek spirit.



    21. To Dean on March 18, 2018 at 8:02 PM

      I enjoyed your comment and I'm sorry I'wont have the time to respond to the extent that it merited.

      Since you equate Greeknes with Reason, which is a very German thing to do (remember for Germans it used to be that Germans = Greeks 2.0) I can only suggest this seminal work which is also an extremely enjoyable read:

      Reading it you'll understand why Christianity found a fertile ground in our Hellenistic lands and perhaps you'll find your self curious for his next significant opus:

      Trust me it will be an eye opener!

      Afterwards you can continue your studies by reading up on the history of Greek language and literature, which is actually by far our truest and most meaningful connection to our Ancient world: Greek and … Roman.
      One of the best on the field is:

      I can't recommend it enthusiastically enough!

      You'll be pleasantly surprised to find out that you can read everyday-use papyri from Ptolemaic Egypt (a much more important centre of Hellinismus at the time than Athens), without any previous training, and you'll be flabbergasted to discover that probably we wouldn't be speaking Greek nowadays or we would be speaking a very different, cut-off variation as, say, French are to medieval Latin, had it not been for the Church after 1204; there wouldn't also have survived almost anything from the Greek literary Corpus (safe from some annotated but very altered and truncated Arab translations of Aristotle)had it not been for many very learned an d industrious monks!

      As for me, I'm an atheist (not a cowardly atheist, i.e. an agnostic that Christians righty abhor) and although I identify as Leftish most of the time (unless I have to listen to one speak for a great big time) I can never forgive Greek Left for in the past taking a page from the most pseudo-scientific and dishonest European books in order to vilify Byzantium ! Oh yes! They loved Ρωμιούς but hated Ρωμαίους!

      Incidentally, did you know that briefly but passionately during the 19th century the Church of the Greek Kingdom also spat on Byzantium, wanted to cut ties with Constantinople and turn itself essentially into Protestants?

      In the end! Rejoice! We're much more resilient, cosmopolitan, complicated and interesting than you previously thought!

      PS> Why not try also that old but always good:


    22. Hmm, Lykinos, interesting.

      You make me very, very jealous once again. A close friend of mind grew up with Greek and Latin as first languages. That gives a rather solid grasp of history, apparently. I regretted too late to never have paid enough attention on all the dynasties and emperors. ;)

      You'll be pleasantly surprised to find out that you can read everyday-use papyri from Ptolemaic Egypt (a much more important centre of Hellinismus at the time than Athens), without any previous training, and you'll be flabbergasted to discover that probably we wouldn't be speaking Greek nowadays or we would be speaking a very different, cut-off variation as, say, French are to medieval Latin,

      Alexandria. Koine, the common language? Really. Is that true? Without training? Koine is close to modern Greek?

      Don't remind me of ages ago. Once upon a time, I stumbled the early literary tradition there more by accident. Fascinated me ...

      Two central Monotheist traditions seem to have almost completely erased it. At least for us. At one point I suspected that some tales survived anyway, by more devious routes. Maybe even made it into the Churches' own early story collection, with a certain bent no doubt.

      Has this changed lately. It's decades ago?

      Both E. R. Dodds lectures series are freely available online. Interesting, thanks.

      But yes, libertarian Kelley L. Ross seems to have some sharp argumentative edges.


    23. To Leander on March 19, 2018 at 1:11 PM

      Part 1

      Koine is a simplified and more systematized evolution of the Attic dialect which after Alexander's conquests became the Lingua Franca of eastern Mediterranean, a great big part of the Balkans and the coastal cities of the Black See; it remained so all during the so-called Hellenistic period, the Roman era proper, well through the 7th century, when the Arab conquest gave the first blow - and a heavy one - to the status of Greek as an international language.

      Compared to modern Greek it shows some substantial differences (the use of the infinity being the most prominent) but it is also the era where some of the most characteristic features of modern Greek begin to developed and some even reach their, more or less, final form: the simplification of the vowel system and the monophthongization of the diphthongs. Those who know modern Greek maybe will understand it better put like this: nowadays we write ι,η,υ,ει,οι but we pronounce only /i/ or we write ο,ω but read /o/ every time or ε,αι sound both /e/ because sounds who were previously distinct in the Attic Greek now began to merge so as to facilitate learning for the vast and vastly different populations that were using now the language. Mutatis mutandis is what now English is untergoing with Globish though we're probably still at the early processes of a still very young international language - perhaps African French offer a better parallel.

      If you don't have access to the Christidis book I recommended (I think it's been translated to English), you can get a general overview by this:
      And more focused on Koine, strangely enough Wikipedia is not half bad.

      Anyway, Gēorgios N. Hatzidakis, the father of Greek linguistics (, was the first to establish that Modern Greek originate from Koine and he proceeded to prove that: "from the roughly 4.900 words of the New testament almost half of them, i.e. 2.280, are still in use nowadays; as for the others most of them, 2.260, are well understood by the majority of Greeks in written or spoken form, and only a few, ca. 400, are truly incomprehensibly to the Greek people.

    24. Part 2

      The problem was that until the papyrological discoveries of the late 19th and the 20th century that brought to light quite a lot of private documents: ex. Private correspondence, notarial deeds, court and tax records etc. we knew only precious few about Koine. That is because written, literary and generally "high- culture" word in the Greek language has an over- millenary history of emulating, to a greater or a lesser degree, sometimes beautifully and others laughably so, that famed over-stylized Attic dialect of 5th and 4th century B.C ( On the other hand, the spoken language followed its own path throughout the millennia and it eventually gained its own prestige status as language of literature and culture; but I kid you not, this dichotomy persisted until 1974/5 essentially creating two parallel histories of two distinct language forms not quite independent the one from the other but not always intercomprehensible either! ( So It's not without irony that the aforementioned ground-shacking scientific discovery was the unearthing of a big old garbage dump! (

    25. Part 3

      You see, before going through these precious Ptolemaic rubbish only a few texts, such as the New Testament, managed to escape enough the Atticist diktats so as to give us a sufficient picture of Koine. But Oxyrhychus changed everything and one of the most pleasant surprises for us, Neo-elines, was that the language that common people used amongst them, whether as native language or as second one, even when it pertained to highly codified usages on official documents, that nevertheless were meant to be understood by the general, not so much or even at all, educated public, was even more close to our own than, say, that of the New Testament! That's a huge deal for Greek nationalism cause the most important and by far the most essential connection we have with our overly idealized ancient ancestors (but also with our unjustly disregarded but much more familiar own Romans / Ρωμιούς) is the ever evolving but not ever breaking apart (cause both conservative and flexible) Greek language - which by they way wouldn't have been possibly if it hadn’t become the linguistic vessel of Christianity in the whole East and afterwards the language of the Church during the Ottoman rule, which meant that every single Christian subject of the Sultan if he ever wanted to practice commerce, educate itself and have any business with the local and imperial administration, was very much obliged to learn Greek cause the only authority that represented him and was responsible for him before the Sublime Gate was the Greek- Orthodox Patriarch! But this is another story which I hope to tell Dean if only find the time….

      So, to finally answer your question, Yes! One who has graduated Greek Likio (roughly equivalent to French Lycée and German Gymnasium) should be able to read these multimillenial monuments of every day communication, provided they have been transcribed (not translated) from papyrus writing form to a more modern reader friendly one.

      So to get an idea, here is a hasty google result:, though it's outdated and not appropriate to the discussion.
      More appropriate:
      And better:,_%CE%91%CE%BC%CF%86%CE%B9%CE%BB%CF%8C%CF%87%CE%B9%CE%BF%CF%82/%CE%91%CF%81%CF%87%CE%B1%CE%AF%CE%B1_%CE%B5%CE%BB%CE%BB%CE%B7%CE%BD%CE%B9%CE%BA%CE%AC_%CE%BA%CE%B5%CE%AF%CE%BC%CE%B5%CE%BD%CE%B1_%CF%83%CE%B5_%CF%80%CE%B1%CF%80%CF%8D%CF%81%CE%BF%CF%85%CF%82_%CF%84%CE%B7%CF%82_%CE%95%CE%BB%CE%BB%CE%B7%CE%BD%CE%BF%CF%81%CF%89%CE%BC%CE%B1%CF%8A%CE%BA%CE%AE%CF%82_%CF%80%CE%B5%CF%81%CE%B9%CF%8C%CE%B4%CE%BF%CF%85

      And to think I wanted to be brief so that I'll be able to write back also to Dean today...


    26. And to think I wanted to be brief so that I'll be able to write back also to Dean today

      sorry, but thanks anyway.


  8. @Lykinos
    You are right. I now remember reading that the term "Byzantine Empire" was a post-fact invention and not used during the time of the Empire. And if memory serves well, it was the Philhellenes who created the theory that the people who lived in the borders of today's Greece were direct descendants of the ancient Greeks. That didn't come out of Greece at the time. And regarding Makedonia, I remember reading that at the time when everybody (Turks, Bulgarians, Greeks, etc.) was fighting for a piece of what is today Greek Makedonia, the people living there had no national identity feelings. The felt their obligation to the Church and the local War Lord. And when they were interviewed whether they felt like Greek, Bulgarians or Turks, they were scared and answered "we are Orthodox".

    It was good of you to remind us that, in the final analysis, what we are seeing in today's Europe and South Eastern Europe is really an outgrowth of the Roman Empire. First the Empire split between East and West, then the West disappeared temporarily and re-surfaced with the strange name "Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation" (which a Habsburg eventually dissolved in 1806) and the East went into the direction of Byzanz.

    1. Not so fast. The Eastern Roman Empire (aka Byzantium) is not Greek. It has the appearances of being Greek due to the spoken language and unending affinity of Rome towards everything of Greek origin. And if you consider the EU as the modern manifestation of the Roman Empire then this is where our roads part because I can't tolerate being a Roman slave.


  9. Lykinos:

    From the pdf you provided I take the following points:

    1. Roman army during the late stages of western Roman empire mostly German composed.
    2. Greeks inherited the eastern Roman empire ("Eventually pared down to the Balkans and Anatolia, the Empire finally consisted mainly of Greeks, or at least Greek speakers, as well as Armenians, Albanians, Vlachs, etc. Conquered and humiliated by Rome, the Greeks inherited Romania and subsequently always called themselves Rhômaioi. This, of course, is incomprehensible unless one understands the meaning and consequences of the Constitutio Antoniniana, let alone Christianization. As such, it is well over the horizon of popular culture, much academic culture, or Hollywood -- to whom the history of "Byzantium" is like something from science fiction, if even that. I cannot say that there has ever been a "Byzantine" Emperor represented in a Hollywood movie -- or a Constantinople that was not already Istanbul.".
    3. Anatolians (presumably Greeks) recolonized mainland Greece. (" The money, as it happens, came from Anatolia, which, although raided regularly by the Arabs, was in much better shape than the Balkans or Greece, where Slavic migration had broken all the way into the Peloponnesus -- Greece had to be resettled with colonists from Anatolia. The paid military would eventually draw recruits from Russia, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, and England. Meanwhile, the libraries and the Classical art of Constantinople might leave one wondering if very much had changed at all in the passing centuries, while visitors from the impoverished West or barbarian North were left to gape in awe at the bustle, wealth, architecture, and sophistication of a place unlike any other in Christendom.")

    So as long as we speak of Christendom this is another way of saying Rome and Greeks are but a minor player in all this?

    I think we are coming to the same conclusion when I say that the Eastern Roman Empire was an anti_Greek concept, even though it had some Greeks in it.

    Because from what you provided I can not possibly conclude that East Rome or New Rome had anything to do with Greeks other than the mainly Greek population of Anatolia which was better preserved from barbarian invasions of mainland Greece and mainly Greek-speaking (Ionians of Athens, which the Turks today call Yunans i.e. Ionians).


  10. So PAOK battles AEK, North Greece the south, the east the west, The young the old, the communist the conservative, the farmers the city dwellers, the poor the rich, the private the public. And all these sub-fractions battles 4 of Greece's neighbor countries.
    The outsiders have been offered a vantage point from where to observe it, the very pinnacle of this pillar of stability, Greece.

    1. Actually the battle of AEK and PAOK are for two different neighborhoods of Constantinople.

      AEK means Athletic Union (Enosis) of Constantinople

      and PAOK means Panhellenic Athletic Club (Omilos) of Constantinople.

      So the battle is about who is more authentic representing the Istanbul heritage. Go figure.


  11. A sad day for Europe. The era of Russian influence in the Balkans via the port of Thessaloniki is a done deal.

    The transfer of a 67 percent stake in Thessaloniki’s Port to South Europe Gateway Thessaloniki Ltd (SEGT) will be completed tomorrow.

    The deal was closed today, the company paid the 231.9 million euros as agreed agreed and replaced members of the company’s managing board.

    The consortium that set up SEGT is owned 47 percent by DIEP GmbH, 33 percent by Terminal Link SAS, and 20 percent by Belterra Investments Ltd (Ivan Savvidis). The Greek state will maintain a 7.22 percent share in the port.

    And all of this for peanuts.