NEWS

MPs escorted from Parliament amid protests

MPs and their staff had to be escorted by police and firefighters from Parliament on Tuesday night after protesters blocked the exit to the building.

Several hundred protesters had to be forced back by riot police, who used buses to clear a path so several lawmakers could leave in their cars along Vassilisis Sofias Avenue. This did not stop demonstrators spitting at the politicians or throwing objects at their vehicles.

PASOK deputy Christos Protopappas said that one protester dropped his trousers and bared his genitals at the lawmaker.

About 30 MPs and parliamentary staff were escorted via a rear exit through the National Gardens. Police and firefighters had to use their torches to help the deputies find their way as the park was closed and unlit at the time.

It was the first time that any real tension surfaced since the so-called Indignant protesters began their daily rallies in front of Parliament a week ago. The protests have been peaceful.

The number of people protesting in central Athens swelled on Tuesday as thousands were drawn to the city center not only by the seventh day of demonstrations by the Indignant movement but also by a rally at the entrance to Athens University, where composer Mikis Theodorakis spoke.

Theodorakis has co-founded his own movement, Spitha (Spark). The 85-year-old composer called the terms of the 110-billion-euro bailout deal a ?national betrayal? and urged opposition parties not to back any further austerity measures.

His appearance drew a crowd of some 20,000 people, many of whom then moved to Syntagma Square where thousands more returned for a seventh evening in a row to peacefully protest against the country?s politicians and its international creditors.

Many of those attending the protests have started taking part in small group discussions about their grievances and hopes. This is leading to the formation of committees which are putting forward ideas for what demands the protesters should be making.

Most of the slogans being chanted by those who stand in front of Parliament are against the government, the austerity measures and the IMF but many participants want the demands of the Indignant to become more specific.

Protesters are expected to return to Syntagma Square for an eighth consecutive day on Wednesday.