Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis accused the main opposition of undermining the measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus by calling for protests, amid hightened tensions following an apparent incident of police brutality in a residential Athens suburb over the weekend.
“SYRIZA’s official call for participation in citizen protest rallies in the midst of the pandemic is an act of great irresponsibility,” Mitsotakis said in a statement on Tuesday.
Mitsotakis said the call “is an affront to our healthcare workers struggling day and night.”
On its side, SYRIZA responded that the prime minister is “in panic due to the incompetence of his government.”
“We inform him that the only one who has the power to motivate citizens – regardless of party affiliation – to mobilize in the middle of a lockdown, is his policy and himself,” it added.
About 5,000 people gathered earlier in the suburb of Nea Smyrni to protest against police violence.
The tensions started when footage of police beating a man on Sunday in an Athens square went viral on social media, sparking public outrage. Greek Police claimed that its officers were attacked by a mob doing a routine check in the suburb of Nea Smyrni.
Citizens’ Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis pledged that any offenses will be dealt with by criminal prosecution and disciplinary action, saying there “is no excuse for police violence.”