NEWS

Anarchists deface Parliament after lapse in security

YIANNIS SOULIOTIS, GIORGOS BOURDARAS

TAGS: Crime, Politics, Terrorism

Just a few days after defacing the US ambassador’s residence in Athens, the anarchist group Rouvikonas caught the Greek Police (ELAS) off guard again on Tuesday they used red paint to vandalize the front of Greece’s Parliament, theoretically one of the best guarded buildings in the capital.

The attack occurred shortly after 2 p.m., when around 15 members of the anarchist group ran up the steps to Parliament and hurled bottles of red paint at its facade.

It appears that they initially posed as tourists before making a run for the stairs behind the Monument of the Unknown Soldier. After throwing the paint, the vandals lobbed two smoke bombs to facilitate their getaway.

A 36-year-old man, one of the group’s founding members, was arrested and is expected to face a prosecutor Wednesday.

In a statement posted on the internet, Rouvikonas said the attack was in solidarity with Dimitris Koufodinas, the convicted November 17 hitman who is in the third week of a hunger strike in protest at authorities’ refusal to grant him a furlough. It was the latest in a series of acts of vandalism and protest by anarchists defending the 61-year-old terrorist that have targeted banks, political offices and the capital’s central shopping district.

The fact that Rouvikonas gained access to Parliament, however, was an embarrassment for ELAS, as the group has targeted the House twice before, once in April 2015 and again in July 2017.

Also, the force had sought to boost its surveillance of potential targets following the attack on US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt’s residence last week. ELAS’s leadership has ordered an investigation into the security lapse.

Citizens’ Protection Minister Olga Gerovasili reportedly expressed discontent to colleagues Tuesday as authorities had underlined the risks of an attack on Parliament.

Political parties condemned the vandalism. “Such acts are deeply undemocratic and have no connection to social struggles,” the office of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said. Ruling SYRIZA also condemned the “undemocratic act of vandalism,” which, it said, was “unanimously opposed by the Left and democratic forces.” 

Conservative New Democracy said the vandalism of Parliament’s facade by Rouvikonas was “the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

“It is the absolute disgrace of a state, which in four days faces elections, and cannot even protect the building that represents Greek democracy,” ND’s spokeswoman Sofia Zacharaki said. Such lawlessness will “end very soon.”

“The government’s tolerance of violence and of the supposedly leftist agents [of violence] is developing into complicity and a daily threat for society,” Movement for Change leader Fofi Gennimata remarked.

Greek anarchists have scaled up acts of protest and vandalism since May 2, when Koufodinas launched a hunger strike to protest a judicial council’s refusal of his latest request for a furlough.

Supreme Court prosecutor Xeni Dimitriou intervened last Friday, hours after the 61-year-old convict was moved into intensive care, appealing the denial.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday discussed her appeal and is expected to announce its decision Thursday or Friday.

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