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Police hoop around Thessaloniki until Sunday because of the celebrations and the military parade

26 October 2012 / 21:10:45  GRReporter
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The celebrations for the 100th anniversary of Thessaloniki's liberation and the National Holiday on Sunday began with draconian security measures. From today until Sunday more than 2,000 police officers will be located in the city, together with colleagues from Athens and reinforcements from the surrounding areas.

The aim of the authorities is to prevent scenes like last year's, when the military parade on the promenade was not held and President Karolos Papoulias left the podium irritated.

The celebrations were opened today with a police cordon around St. Demetrius of Thessaloniki church, where a solemn liturgy was held. It was attended by the President, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, local government representatives and citizens who had a special invitation. Thessaloniki residents, who wanted to go into the temple and to honour the icon and the relics of the city's patron, were only allowed to approach the iron railings placed around the church.

Agiou Dimitriou Street has been blocked since early morning. Police troops were deployed both around the church and the surrounding streets, charged with the task of not allowing organized groups to reach the temple.

Despite the measures, however, some Thessalonians still managed to shout their slogans. When Karolos Papoulias and Antonis Samaras came out of the church, they were greeted by chants: "Thieves" and "Traitors, go home. We do not want you in Thessaloniki".

Police attention is now focused on Saturday's student parade and on Sunday's military parade. According to sources, citizens will be able to watch the parade only from the western part of the promenade and 100 metres away from the podium of the official guests.

Anxiety is caused by the intentions of various groups to hold a "civil" parade, as they call it. Earlier today SYRIZA’s deputy Panagiotis Lafazanis declared that he supports such a parade, and his colleague Dimitris Papadimoulis admitted in a morning show that the radical Left supported last year's protests as well.

A picture from the protests during last year's military parade, Picture: ethnos.gr

The measure of preventive detention of suspected individuals is in force and a police helicopter will be hovering over the city. Coast guard boats are ready for action.

At the same time the military parade will be significantly smaller compared to past ones and it will not engage motor divisions, as in the past few years.

However, for two days now Thessalonians have been watching the flights of the Hellenic F16 Demo Team "Zeus", which is preparing for the parade. "The team excited Thessaloniki very much. Smiling people went out on their balconies and somehow suddenly many national flags appeared," wrote in his Twitter account Chief Commander of the Staff of the Greek Army General Michalis Kostarakos.

Although the centre of celebrations is in northern Greece, the security measures in Athens will also be tightened. On Sunday, a students' parade will be held in the capital city and access to the podium of the official guests will be allowed only to those who have invitations and accreditations.

Tags: Society Thessaloniki military parade national holiday celebrations
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