Sputnik Escalates the Cold War
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Papadopoulos, Georgios (1919–1999)

Greek military leader and prime minister (1967–1973), regent (1972–1973), and president (1973–1974) of the Greek military junta, otherwise known as the Greek Revolutionary Junta. Born in Eleochorion, Greece, on 5 May 1919, the eldest son of a village teacher, Georgios Papadopoulos graduated from the Greek Military Academy in 1940, saw combat duty in World War II during 1940–1941 and in the final stages of the Greek Civil War in 1949, and was promoted to the rank of colonel in 1960. During 1959–1964 he served in the clandestine Service of Information (KYP), an arm of the Ministry of Defense. He went on to become a key advisor to Greek Prime Minister Georgios Papandreou.

A rabid anticommunist and right-wing extremist, Papa-dopoulos joined a group of officers who, fearing another victory of Papandreou's Center Union Party in the May 1967 elections, overthrew the government in a bloodless coup on 21 April 1967. The junta rationalized the ouster as an effort to stamp out communist subversion in the government. Papadopoulos became one of three officers of the military junta. It is alleged that the junta was supported by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), for whom he had long worked. He was the preponderant force of the junta, holding the positions of prime minister (1967–1973), regent (1972–1973), and president (1973–1974). The military regime relentlessly cracked down on dissidents and suspended basic civil liberties. After the failed 1974 attempt to formally annex Cyprus, after which the Turks counterattacked and partitioned the island, the junta collapsed in July 1974. Papadopoulos was sentenced to death for high treason and insurrection in 1975. However, his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. He died on 27 June 1999 in Athens.

Lucian N. Leustean


Further Reading
Woodhouse, C. M. The Rise and Fall of the Greek Colonels. London: Granada, 1985.
 

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