Sex, lies and Greek video tapes
As if the effects of the terrible economic crisis were not enough, as if the nightmarish rise of Greek fascism did not send enough warning signs to Europe, a new story from Greece of an entirely different nature, is expected to capture international attention. It has sex, politics, media and perhaps blackmail.
It involves a young charismatic leftist politician from the main opposition leftist party of Syriza who nearly won the mayor’s seat in Athens last May.
Gabriel Sakellaridis, a 34 year-old economist and a favorite choice of the leader of the party, Alexis Tsipras, ran a highly successful electoral campaign and managed to miss victory by just a few thousand votes. An unknown figure outside the party, he displayed remarkable capacity to adopt a cool “civilized” electoral style against a loud and acrimonious campaign conducted by the rest of the candidates. His impressive campaign and his personal charm made him a highly popular new political figure, especially among the young voters. His steep rise was a big boost for his party and especially for Tsipras himself who selected him to run as a candidate for Athens.
The two-round local and European Parliament elections last month brought good results for Syriza. For the first time in Greece’s recent history, a radical leftist party nationally won the highest number of votes. Since for many suffering Greeks the claims of the present coalition government that the crisis is about to end, is a moot argument, Syriza was getting ready to take over. The end of the Samaras-Venizelos was only a matter of very little time, claimed Syriza, perhaps in a few months when Parliament needs to elect a new president of the republic.
But the jubilation over the local election results has been marred by the “Sakellaridis scandal.” The scandal erupted when reports claimed that Sakellaridis was seen masturbating live on an open Internet site with a sleazy reputation. Among the viewers there was a group of students who eventually handed a video with the “act” to a controversial investigative Greek journalist. Rumors about the incident circulated among Greek media that began dropping hints that this is a case of blackmail.
Most claimed that this is a case of blackmail against a rising political star by a veteran journalist known for targeting public figures by exposing their immoral personal life and corrupt conduct.
Last Tuesday, June 17, Sakellaridis, using his Facebook account claimed that he “fell victim of political blackmail hatched by the political underworld under a journalistic guise. The Left cannot tolerate blackmail.”
The “blackmailer,” Makis Triantafyllopoulos immediately responded to Sakellaridis’ announcement by saying he has in his possession Sakellaridis’ sex video. He claimed that rather than putting it directly online, he informed Syriza asking them to deal with the case and stated privacy is “a hypocritical invention to hide behind if you are involved in politics.” After receiving no response from Syriza he decided for “the public good” to publish an edited version of the video asking Sakellaridis to “quietly withdraw from politics.”
Now Greeks are hotly debating whether this is a plot to stop the advance of Syriza or follies of an unscrupulous young man? So far Syriza itself has remained mute.