Toskas defends police estimate of turnout at ‘Macedonia’ rally

Toskas defends police estimate of turnout at ‘Macedonia’ rally

A dispute between the authorities and organizers of Sunday's large 'Macedonia' rally in Athens continued on Monday with Citizens' Protection Minister Nikos Toskas defending the Greek Police's (ELAS) estimate that 140,000 people attended.

Organizers claimed that turnout was much higher: between a million and a million and a half.

In comments to ANT1 television, Toskas said that the estimate given by ELAS was "entirely accurate" and "has nothing to do with political expediency."

Amid the dispute over the attendance, which started on Sunday afternoon, ELAS released aerial video footage showing the streets around Syntagma Square at the time of the rally.

According to Toskas, the video was made at 2.55 p.m. on Sunday. There was no time on the video and the date was wrong, Toskas said, because that function of the camera was not working.

The minister insisted that the demonstrators' estimate was way off. "If there had been a million people, they would have reached Ambelokipi," he said.

Toskas added that ELAS deserved congratulations for ensuring that, despite the large crowd, there was no serious upheaval on Sunday, barring some clashes between self-styled anarchists and riot police officers.

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