(b. 28 January 1906, Asia Minor—d. 22 February 1992, Athens, Greece) Born in what is present-day Turkey, Vafiades worked as a laborer in Istanbul before having to flee the country in 1923. After settling in Greece, he became the founder of the Greek Communist Party. In May 1946, the Greek Civil War began when communist rebels, led by Vafiades, seized control of key border installations in northern Greece. The Greek communists were aided by Soviet-controlled Albania, Bulgaria and, at that time, Yugoslavia. The war would last until October 1949. On 24 December 1947, Vafiades, who called himself “General Marcos, ” proclaimed the First Provisional Democratic Government of Free Greece, which encompassed most of the northern mountains of Macedonia. By that point some 20,000 rebel insurgents were under his command. When Yugoslavia defected from the Soviet bloc to steer its own course, the Yugoslav border was closed to Vafiades and his rebels, and the Greek Civil War collapsed. Vafiades fled the region, settling in the Soviet Union. Running afoul of Stalin, he was purged from the party in 1950 but was later rehabilitated (1956). In 1964, however, he was again purged for five years. Restored in 1969, he returned to Greece, where he received an amnesty (1983) and was eventually elected (1989) to the parliament as a Panhellenic Socialist. See Greece.
On 27 July 1973, Cyprus's minister of justice, Christos Vakis, was kidnapped by followers of General Georgios (George) Grivas (qv), the leader of the movement aimed at uniting Cyprus under Greece. This incident stunned Cyprus as it illustrated the strength of the Greek rebel forces. Vakis was released unharmed in August amid rumors that Grivas's next target was the assassination of Bishop Makarios. Grivas vehemently denied the charge.
On 17 October 1984, U.S. customs officers seized the 82-foot fishing trawler Valhalla, which was claimed to be smuggling weapons from the United States to the Irish Republican Army (IRA). This was the second such confiscation within 30 days. Irish naval units had intercepted and captured another ship carrying IRA members and five tons of arms on 29 September.