Clerics react to allegations by Golden Dawn chief

Three days after video footage emerged of Golden Dawn leader Nikos Michaloliakos passing judgment on several Greek Orthodox bishops during a meeting with party friends, some of the clerics quoted in the video hit back with remarks against the neo-Nazi party.

A statement from the Bishopric of Monemvasia and Sparta said that Bishop Efstathios “steers clear of any involvement in politics.” In the video, Michaloliakos claims Efstathios convinced the residents of a nursing home to vote for the party in last year’s elections.

Bishop Andreas of Konitsa, who is credited by the far-right leader with funding the local Golden Dawn office, rejected the allegation as “ridiculous.” “The finances of the bishopric are in such a [sorry] state that it can barely sustain its charity work,” he said.

Similarly, Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus, described by Michaloliakos in the video as a “diamond,” rejected any links to the party, while Bishop Anthimos of Thessaloniki (photo), who is described as a “major politico,” called him “naive.”

The controversial footage, which is currently in the hands of investigators, was found on one of the computers seized by authorities from the homes of Golden Dawn MPs.

In a related development on Monday, Interior Minister Yiannis Michelakis urged the Parliament’s ethics committee to freeze state funding to Golden Dawn.

“It is incomprehensible for the state and taxpaying citizens to fund parties which are accused of being criminal or terrorist organizations [and] which attempt to hide behind the mantle of a political party,” Michelakis said.

Greek MPs in October voted to cut off state funding to political parties if their leaders, or a tenth of their lawmakers, are charged with involvement in a “criminal organization” or “acts of terrorism.”

Meanwhile, in an interview with the Voice of Russia radio network, Michaloliakos repeated that the crackdown on Golden Dawn is politically motivated.

“There is no evidence to back this monstrous claim… that we are a criminal organization,” Michaloliakos said.

“If judges are allowed to make a decision on the basis of existing evidence, then we will be looking forward to a triumphant acquittal,” he said.

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