Gavrish lived for several years in Greece, where he tried to
establish contacts with potential allies. Between 2009 and 2013, he worked as a
third secretary at the Russian Embassy in Athens. In the fall of 2013, he moved
back to Moscow.
In December 2014, when his hacked emails were leaked to the public, Gavrish and his written correspondence didn’t attract much attention. But they have become extremely interesting now given the kind of statements the new Greek government has made about Russia as well as the Kremlin’s aggressive efforts to befriend Tsipras. The question is: Just how far-reaching is the influence that Russian ideologies exert on Greek politicians?
From the email archive – which includes correspondence in Russia, Greek and English stretching from May 2010 to the end of November 2014 – it appears that Gavrish maintained a vast network in Greece. He evidently aimed to find pro-Russian and anti-European comrades-in-arms. His broad range of friendly relationships included ones with American Embassy employees, businesspeople and intellectuals who have exerted influence on politicians of completely different ideological orientations. In fact, he even had contacts to both Syriza, today’s leftist governing party, and its coalition partner, the right-wing populist Independent Greeks party.
"Pro-Russian friends" among the right-wing extremists
Gavrish and his fellow campaigners also looked for allies among
right-wing extremists. This can be seen from contacts to Golden Dawn, a neo-Nazi
party in Greece whose entire top leadership must now stand trial on charges of
forming a criminal organization.
Last November, Gavrish received an email from an intermediary asking whether the former diplomat could assist "our pro-Russian Italian friend." The friend in question was Italian fascist Roberto Fiore, founder of the right-wing extremist Forza Nuova party. Fiore apparently wanted to travel to Athens to meet with the leadership circle of Golden Dawn, but the most important neo-Nazis in the Golden Dawn party were already sitting in jail. Fiore asked: "Can you send a lawyer for the 12 of December?" adding that he was needed in order "to enter the jail where the leaders of Golden Dawn are." The emails do not reveal whether the Italian fascist ever received any help.
Dugin as star guest
Malofeyev, the devout Russian Orthodox oligarch and wedding
organizer, also belongs to Gavrish’s network in Russia. For this reason,
Gavrish’s name pops up in places like the mailing lists of Marshall Capital, an
investment fund founded by Malofeyev, where Gavrish is referred to as an
Malofeyev doesn’t only bankroll separatists in eastern Ukraine
and political parties in Greece; he is also believed to have played an
intermediary role in the annexation of Crimea. He describes himself as an
Orthodox Christian patriot, he has a portrait of Czar Alexander III hanging in
his office, and he would like to see the return of the Russian Empire. His St. Basil the Great Foundation numbers among the biggest benefactors of the Russian
Orthodox Church and lends itself a charitable appearance.
But Malofeyev’s money also benefits networks in Europe. For example, last May, Malofeyev’s foundation acted as the host of a conference hidden from the public in Vienna that brought together right-wing extremists, monarchists, Christian fundamentalists and anti-European nationalists. All of them were united by their shared antipathy toward all forms of liberalism and a positive view of today’s Russia. The event was officially dedicated to the 200th anniversary of the "Holy Alliance" that Russia, Prussia and Austria forged in 1815 after the defeat of Napoleon. Among those in attendance were representatives of France’s National Front and the Bulgarian right-wing populist party Ataka.
The "elite club"
The star guest at the conference in Vienna was once again Dugin.
And that was no coincidence. For years, Dugin has been visiting his
comrades-in-arms all across Europe. Just who he has in mind by this category can
be gathered from another email, which Dugin sent to Gavrish in February 2014.
At the beginning of the message, there is a list of individuals from different
countries who were supposedly suitable to found an "elite club" or "a group to
influence information along the lines of ‘Russia Today.’"
Under the heading
"Germany," Dugin lists the political commentator Jürgen
Elsässer, for example, and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán under "Hungary."
For Greece, there are three people on the list, including Alexis Tsipras, head
of the then opposition party Syriza. This is the only indication in the emails
that, in addition to having contacts with Greek right-wing extremists and
Kammenos’ Independent Greeks, Russian ideologues view the current head of the
Greek government himself as a potential cooperation partner.
The same also holds true for other members of Tsipras’ Syriza
party. In addition to the composer Mikis Theodorakis, the "elite club" list
names a third Greek: the writer and journalist Dmitris Konstantakopoulos. According
to a footnote, Dugin or one of his representatives had met all of these men in
person. It goes on to claim that possibilities for participating in "an
organizational and/or informational initiative along pro-Russia lines" were
also sounded out with them either directly or indirectly.