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Newspaper Publishes Explicit Photos of Premier’s Wife

October 31, 1995

ATHENS, Greece (AP) _ Front-page topless photos of the premier’s wife failed to get her to withdraw from politics, so a newspaper is taking its campaign a step further.

Friday’s edition of Avriani featured a front-page, full-color shot of Dimitra Papandreou sitting naked on a beach, while another naked woman fondles her genitals. The headline reads: ``Look At Who Governs Us!″

Mrs. Papandreou called the latest photograph ``an inconceivable fabrication, the culmination of a dirty campaign of political blackmail.″ Avriani says it’s genuine.

Giorgos Kouris, the owner of Avriani and a former friend and supporter of Premier Andreas Papandreou, threatens to continue the campaign until Mrs. Papandreou withdraws from political life.

``I will stop publishing photographs ... if Mrs. Liani gets out of politics,″ Kouris said Sunday, referring to the premier’s wife by her maiden name.

The photos of Mrs. Papandreou, which Avriani has published daily since September, have helped boost Avriani’s circulation from 15,000 to over 200,000. But the newspaper insists its campaign is political, not commercial.

``When we saw that this lady, instead of taking care of the premier by washing his underwear and cooking, was beginning to take an interest in politics ... we tried to open the eyes of the sleeping premier,″ Avriani said in a recent edition.

Kouris wants Mrs. Papandreou, 40, to resign as the premier’s chief of staff, saying that she exercises an undue influence on her 76-year-old ailing husband, who appears frail following open-heart surgery in 1988.

The couple lives in a luxurious suburban villa, and Mrs. Papandreou determines who her husband speaks to. Kouris and other opposition figures claim the veteran Socialist premier is not in touch with events.

Kouris’s campaign to oust Mrs. Papandreou began by publishing a series of photographs from a 1989 book showing her sunbathing in the nude, including one in which her hand rests on the crotch of an unidentified man in a bathing suit.

The book was published by a conservative parliamentarian when Papandreou went public with his extramarital affair with the woman he later married, then an Olympic Airways stewardess named Dimitra Liani.

At the time, Avriani was the only paper to come to the premier’s defense, saying of Margaret Papandreou, his feminist wife of 38 years: ``If she had stayed home and learned how to boil an egg, Andreas would not have gone looking elsewhere.″

Papandreou was 69. Liani was half his age. Avriani said Papandreou’s critics were jealous.

Avriani has supported Papandreou through the years, accusing his conservative rival, Constantine Mitsotakis, a member of the resistance during World War II, of being a Nazi collaborator, and claiming that a leading Communist was an American agent. None of the reports were proven.

Kouris’ newspaper was a free platform for the Socialists during their 1981-89 administration and their comeback in 1993. Avriani also supported Papandreou in 1989 when he was recovering from heart surgery amid a scandal over his affair with Liani and an indictment for alleged involvement in a $210 million bank embezzlement scheme.

Kouris claims he won Papandreou an acquital in 1992 and helped him return to power.

``I made him prime minister twice, and I kept him out of prison,″ Kouris bragged Sunday, when he emerged in public after a 48-hour arrest warrant for ``unprovoked vilification″ of Mrs. Papandreou expired. He will be tried for the misdemeanor at a later date.

As recently as last summer, Papandreou called Avriani ``a paradigm of independent journalism.″

The praise has come back to haunt him, but the photo did not appear to have pushed Mrs. Papandreou from power.

``Wouldn’t that mean that this disgrace would be rewarded?″ said government spokesman Telemachos Hytiris.

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