Tsipras in Moscow for political talks

Syriza leader to meet senior political figures

Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras to meet the chairperson of the Russia's upper house, Valentina Matviyenko, a firm Putin ally and former ambassador to Greece

Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras (Photo: AFP) Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras (Photo: AFP) Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras has begun a two-day visit to Moscow, where he is scheduled to meet with senior political leaders.

Tsipras, who is the European Left's candidate for European Commission president, is due to meet Valentina Matviyenko, the chairperson of the upper house or Federation Council of the Russian Federation, a firm ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin and was ambassador to Greece in 1997–1998.

Tsipras travelled to Moscow from Berlin, where he addressed the conference of Germany's Die Linke (Left) party on Saturday. In his speech, the Syriza leader said the removal of "fascist elements" from the Ukrainian government was a precondition for peace. 

"It is absolutely unaccceptable that we have governments right at the heart of Europe with the participation of neonazi elements, as happens in Ukraine. Europe should demand the immediate withdrawal of all fascist elements from all levels of government as a precondition for peace to be restored," he told delegates. 

On Tuesday, the Syriza leader has arranged meetings with Vladimir Titov, first deputy foreign minister who has responsibility for Russian-European relations; Aleksey Pushkov, the chairman of the State Duma's foreign affairs committee; and Ivan Melnikov, vice-chairman of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation and a Duma MP.

A meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was reportedly cancelled due to the ongoing developments in Ukraine, where rebel referendums were held in the pro-Russian regions of the east over the weekend. According to partial results, 89% of voters in the Donetsk region and about 96% of those in the neighbouring Luhansk province voted for independence in polls that have been condemned by the Ukranian government as a "farce".

The Syriza delegation includes Nadia Valavani MP, the party's foreign affairs representative in parliament; Yannis Dragasakis, deputy parliamentary speaker and Nikos Kotzias, professor of international relations at the University of Piraeus. 

The party has not revealed what Tsipras expects to raise with the Russian side.

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