Director of the president’s press office Victoras Papadopoulos called Green Party leader Giorgos Perdikis the “populist of the century” after the latter said media should be defended from threats of a lawsuit coming from the president’s law office.
The spat is part of a larger war of words that was set in motion last Wednesday after the Organised Crime and Corruption Project (OCCRP) published a report implying a link between the president, his law firm and the Troika Landromat, a network of shell companies that operated from 2006 to 2013 moving billions of dollars and allowing its users to hide assets, evade taxes and launder money.
The OCCPR allegations have been widely reported and turned into a political issue after Akel party leader Andros Kyprianou called on the president to respond to the substance of the reports – though he said he did not adopt the allegations.
The government branded the OCCRP report as libellous and devoid of reality while the law firm’s CEO Stathis Lemis said it would take legal action for spreading false news and libel adding that it was ‘unacceptable’ for the island’s media to re-report libellous claims.
Perdikis posted on Twitter saying that “local media are a mess. But when they’re receiving threats from the president’s lawyer, we are all duty-bound to stand by their side. Since ancient times, the messenger should not be punished for the message.” The party leader also called on the president to reign his lawyer in.
Papadopoulos retorted by saying Perdikis was trying to sweet talk the media, sarcastically calling him the authority on fake news and “the populist of the century”, citing examples such as Perdikis’ previous public discussions on chemtrails and saying the party leader had taken money from the state for years under false pretences, without specifying what he meant.