Some 3,800 police officers – a 10 percent rise compared to last year – have been deployed as part of the security measures in place for the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), which gets under way on Saturday.
In addition, dozens of anti-riot and counterterror units are also on alert as scores of labor unions have announced a series of rallies over the next few days to protest austerity and government commitments to implement more measures.
Moreover, as the US is TIF’s honored country this year and because of fears that anarchists, including the Rouvikonas group, may look to attack targets of American interest, Greek anti-terror units and FBI agents will also be present in the city.
On Thursday, members of Rouvikonas raided the headquarters of the Federation of Northern Greece Industrialists, while in a separate incident five people tried to scatter fliers from the top of the White Tower, a waterfront monument and one of the northern port city’s most recognizable buildings.
The hotels where Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt and US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross are staying are under tight security while the roads their vehicles will take will be closed to traffic.
No group of protesters will be allowed to approach the TIF premises, while the flow of traffic around the complex will be diverted.
However, the tight security has raised concerns that this could be to the detriment of security in Athens as around 1,000 police officers have been dispatched to Thessaloniki.
For this reason, authorities have asked police in Athens to increase security around buildings in the capital that could be targeted.
Meanwhile, in a related development, police on Thursday intercepted a car on the Athens-Thessaloniki national highway in which four suspected anarchists believed to be headed to the northern port were carrying sledge-hammers and gas masks.
The incident is seen as confirming police concerns of violence.