Former Edek MP George Varnava left the party on Friday, slamming party leader Marinos Sizopoulos as he announced his exit.

He accused Sizopoulos of carrying out “a policy of exterminating those who were considered his political opponents, those who expressed a different opinion, those who did not submit to his pressures and demands.”

As a result, he said, “important members of the movement departed, some were kicked out and some left of their own volition, with the result that the movement is in a very difficult position.”

He also decried a number of scandals which have “erupted” under Sizopoulos’ leadership, including “the embezzlement of party funds” and “the clear blackmail of an Edek MEP, which was made public with the whole of Cyprus watching.”

In this particular episode, he said, “Marinos Sizopoulos violated European Union law by asking for European money for the employment of party officials.” He added that the MEP in question, Demetris Papadakis, was being “extorted”.

He went on to say that on other occasions, Sizopoulos had “clearly” falsified the party’s membership register, and “selected a convicted paedophile as a candidate to be a municipal councillor”.

In addition, he claimed there was “potential involvement of Marinos Sizopoulos in a criminal case regarding the issuing of an illegal golden passport to an alleged investor of Iraqi origin.”

He said the above incidents “are not expressions of a real socialist movement”, and that “the bequests of [party founder] Vasos Lyssarides were not respected, even if some people are constantly invoking his name.

“The movement is faltering to such an extent that today the pride of being an Edek member has turned into humiliation. The once proud Edek has been turned into a small shop to serve the personal interests of a few, who do not care that it is shrinking daily,” he said.

He added, “based on all of the above, as a true socialist … I cannot tolerate and participate in what Marinos Sizopoulos and his ilk have turned this movement into.”

Varnava served in parliament between 2001 and 2016, and was also an observer of the European Parliament between 2003 and 2004, when Cyprus became member of the European Union.