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FACTBOX-Five facts about Cyprus leftist Christofias

NICOSIA (Reuters) - Cyprus’s Communist leader Demetris Christofias is one of two contenders in a presidential election runoff on February 24, after coming in second with 33.3 percent of the vote on Sunday.

Following are some facts about Christofias:

- He was elected President of Cyprus’s House of Representatives in 2001 and backed rival Tassos Papadopoulos’s bid for the presidency in 2003.

- He pulled his backing for the government in 2007 when Papadopoulos refused to back his candidacy in the 2008 elections.

- His party had been against the admission of Cyprus into the euro zone on Jan 1 2008. He advocated a delay of a year to better prepare Cypriots for the changeover.

- Soviet educated on a scholarship, he has a PhD in history. He speaks fluent Russian and has close ties with the Kremlin.

- He grew up in communist party AKEL ranks, first as head of its youth wing, and then as AKEL Secretary-General in 1988.

- He was born on August 29 1946. Christofias had a life-saving kidney transplant with his sister as the donor. Married, he has three children.

Writing by Michele Kambas, editing by Matthew Tostevin