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Angry people attacked minister and deputy’s cars, four protesters were evacuated by ambulance, the journalist Tasos Teloglou was beaten

15 June 2011 / 13:06:43  GRReporter
7755 reads

Marina Nikolova

Anastasia Balezdrova

Four demonstrators were taken by ambulance after clashes between police and anarchists and members of the far-right organization Golden Dawn in front of the Greek Parliament. A total of seven protesters and one policeman were taken to the Red Cross hospital with minor injuries, reports our reporter Marina Nikolova. Unknown people recognized the Kathimerini newspaper journalist Tassos Teloglou in front of the old parliament and hit him in the head with a hard object. Then they began shouting "Greece! Greece". The journalist has a torn cheek and post-traumatic amnesia, which requires his hospitalization, the Ministry of Health announced.

Thousands of people are surrounding the Greek parliament and powerful police forces are making a corridor for the deputies to enter the parliamentary building. "We came to protest peacefully," the demonstrators are saying. A 24-hour nationwide strike is held in Greece today against the mid-term economic program, which comes for discussion in Parliament. However, the peaceful protest of one million people, as major media in Greece assessed, was interrupted and broken by the clashes between hooligans and police.

The Parliament is surrounded by iron barriers and police buses, and behind them are the riot forces cordons. Over 5000 policemen and 32 units of the special forces are guarding the peaceful demonstration. Minutes ago a group of demonstrators threw a Molotov cocktail at the police and they responded by using tear gas. The demonstrators on Rigils Street in downtown were scattered with tear gas, reported Anastasia Balezdrova. Some of them were sitting on the road, chanting slogans like "Down with the junta of PASOK" and "Bread, education, freedom."

A group of protesters attacked the car of the Minister of Health Andreas Loverdos on his way to the parliament. The angry people broke the windscreen of the luxury limousine and then threw stones and water bottles at it. "These are not discontented, but ignoble people," said the Minister himself shortly after the incident.

About 50 people of all ages attacked another deputy’s car with two members of PASOK - Olga Rendari and Yannis Vladis. The wild citizens began throwing stones, eggs and water bottles at the car, swearing at the deputies. The police managed to surround the car and save them from popular anger. The police detained 10 people in connection with the incident.

Tens of thousands of people have come downtown Athens at this time and flooded the boulevards and streets around Syntagma Square like a live sea. The two union processions – of the union of public and private workers and of the communist trade union PAME – have already arrived there too. The organizers are calling in the speakers the people to keep calm in order the protest to end peacefully. Civil organizations have opened two petitions. The first is requiring a referendum on the mid-term program for economic development in Greece in the period 2012-2015 and is collecting signatures on Syntagma Square. The other petition is requiring an international independent accounting controls commission to be formed to find out how the Greek foreign debt was accumulated, reports Marina Nikolova.

The people who attended the demonstration before the big blasts of tear gas were heard and all to go down the Ermou Street stood quietly in the square and talked to each other. But there was the feeling that despite the intention of holding a peaceful demonstration, there were hooligans who have come to cause clashes. This was demonstrated by the fact that people had surgical masks to protect them from tear gas. Some say that the strikes do not make sense and the only way to hear their voice is to remain on the square. Others are tired of the fact that the government says one thing and takes other decisions then.

Angry citizens had gathered on Vasileos Konstantinou Avenue too, a few crossings away from the residence of the President and Megaro Maximou - the building that houses the office of the Prime Minister and the President residence. The sidewalks were full of people of any age who protested against the planned mid-term economic measures. Two groups, involving mostly young people, formed in two of the streets and tried to break through the police cordon to reach the government buildings.

The police repelled them only with their shields at first. Subsequently, however, they sprayed tear gas at the protesters although none of them had provoked them in any way.

Gradually, the police moved the two groups to the two lanes of the boulevard. The young people protested, abused the police and shouted slogans and wrote them down on the road. Minutes later, police buses arrived that were parked across both lanes, so that none of the protesters could even see the front part of the boulevard.

Slightly up the street, at least 100 police motorcycles and police officers patrolled along the lane where the cars of ministers and deputies were on their way to the Parliament and the office of the Prime Minister. They did not let anyone to get close to the crossing with Vasileos Georgiou Street. However, the people who were behind the police cordon managed to hit a few cars with water bottles. The protesters shouted in unison "Thieves! Thieves!" in the appearance of any car with tinted windows that was necessarily accompanied by several police motorcycles. A dozens of groups of protesting youths, middle-aged people and pensioners were at the end of each crossing, arguing with the police and trying to convince them that they are not in different camps with them. "Are you not ashamed of keeping them?" "Is it worth standing up against us and protecting them for such low wages?" and "Don’t you have children?" were some of the most frequent exclamations.
 
After being calm for some time the groups of protesters behind the police buses began to rebel again. Some people began throwing empty bottles of water, tins of soft drinks and even small stones. The police responded with tear gas and pushed the protesters further back. They themselves moved away and turned down several containers of waste. Someone tried to ignite them, but failed. After a while most of the protesters left for Syntagma Square in front of the Parliament to continue their protest there.

Meanwhile, the extraordinary meeting between the Prime Minister George Papandreou and the President of Greece Karolos Papoulias that started at 13.00 h ended. The meeting lasted one hour. The Prime Minister did not make any statement while leaving the presidential palace. According to preliminary information, George Papandreou requested the President to convene the national council of political leaders in another desperate attempt to achieve political consensus on the reforms in the country.

The world markets did not respond well to today's general strike in Greece. The index of the Athens Stock Exchange "dived" by 3.5% down. The spread-index of government securities of 10-years maturity crossed the psychological barrier of 1500 bp and stopped at 1508. There is a serious increase in the CDS-insurances against bankruptcy.

Tags: DemonstrationGreeceAttacked ministers and deputiesPoliceTension
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