Zealots try to enter Mt Athos

Police yesterday chased dozens of fanatical Old Calendarists through the forests of Mount Athos after they had tried to force their way into the centuries-old monastic community to celebrate Ascension Day with the Orthodox zealot monks occupying the Esphigmenou Monastery. On Tuesday night, hundreds of Old Calendarists started arriving at Ouranoupolis, the gateway to Mount Athos on the peninsula of Halkidiki. They began boarding boats to cross to the monastic community. Police and port authority officials prevented some from boarding the boats but others pushed through barricades that had been set up. Around 50 fled and were chased through the mountains by officers. There were reports of scuffles but no arrests. The unrest coincided with a visit to Mount Athos by President Karolos Papoulias and his German counterpart Heinz Fischer.