On the defensive after seeing the coalition’s majority reduced again this week, government officials on Wednesday branded an attempted attack on the office of a coalition MP as part of a scheme to destabilize the administration but were silenced when the anarchist group Rouvikonas took responsibility for the incident.
Following an attempt by unidentified individuals to break into the office of Independent Greeks (ANEL) MP Costas Katsikis on Vassilissis Sofias Avenue on Wednesday, government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos spoke of an “organized plan of intimidation and thug-like attacks against MPs and members of the government.”
He also accused main opposition New Democracy of basically supporting these attacks and unspecified “business interests” of encouraging them.
Parliament Speaker Nikos Voutsis struck a similar tone, referring to “small groups that practice extreme violence and use extremely divisive slogans” as well as an attempt to “intimidate the political system, parties, MPs, institutions.”
ANEL leader Panos Kammenos, who is also defense minister, joined the chorus with a post on Twitter, calling for a prosecutor to intervene as, he claimed, there was evidence of “preparatory acts to topple the regime.”
Later, in a clear embarrassment for the government, the attack was claimed by the Rouvikonas anarchist group, which posted a statement on an anti-establishment website indicating that the attempted attack was prompted by Katsikis’s comments in May likening homosexuality to pedophilia during an argument against same-sex marriage.
The development fueled a furor on social media as the government has often been accused of tolerating attacks by Rouvikonas.
Meanwhile, government officials insisted that the coalition’s cohesion is not at risk despite the departure of ANEL MP Giorgos Lazaridis earlier this week, which has left the administration with a majority of two, and suggested that attempts were under way to intimidate ruling lawmakers.
In comments to ANT1 TV channel, Interior Minister Panos Skourletis expressed confidence that the government was safe. “I believe there will be no more defections but in any case there are reserves,” he said, apparently referring to opposition MPs who have suggested they will back the government on various issues.