NEWS

Minister says ‘far-right elements’ behind clashes with police west of Athens

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Far-right elements were responsible for instigating clashes with riot police in Haidari, western Athens, Alternate Minister for Citizens' Protection Nikos Toskas said on Friday, pointing the finger at far-right party Golden Dawn, as farmers protesting social security reforms continued to descend on Athens from different parts of Greece.

Police used tear gas to disperse a crowd of protesters who tried to plow through a roadblock in Haidari by attacking riot officers, hitting them with rocks and sticks.

“Far-right elements, Golden Dawn elements, who gathered in the area, trying to create confusion, wreaking havoc, damaging police cars, chasing officers and injuring officers, are trying to disorient the farmers' movement from its claims. But I am confident that the democrats among the farmers will stand up to them and prevent this kind og behavior,” Toskas said, speaking by telephone on Skai TV on Friday.

The protesters then proceeded to block the Attiki Odos ring road as they headed toward downtown Athens to join other disgruntled farmers at a rally on front of Parliament on Syntagma Square, where some farmes had set up camping tents on the square, expressing their intention to camp out over the weekend.

Clashes were also reported outside the Agriculture Ministry, where farmers allegedly threatened to spray riot police with pesticide if they used tear gas to disperse them, smashed windows and set dumpsters on fire.

“These scenes were aimed at blackening the farmers' struggle,” Agriculture Minister Vangelis Apostolou commented. “There is only one way forward for us – dialogue to address the farmers' problems.”