High alert for Polytechnic

Fearing riots by left-wingers and anarchists sympathetic to the November 17 suspects, the government will field some 5,000 policemen in the center of Athens over the next three days of commemorations for the 1973 student revolt that gave the terrorist group its name. Although fierce policing since the late 1990s – after years of violence that saw parts of historic central Athens vandalized and razed by fire – had succeeded in keeping the annual November 17 Polytechnic celebrations more or less peaceful, Public Order Ministry officials believe extremists could try to hijack the politically sensitive event. The celebrations start today and end on Sunday, the 28th anniversary of the military dictatorship’s bloody suppression of a student uprising inside the Patission Avenue complex of the Polytechnic – now named the National Technical University of Athens. On Sunday afternoon, a march will be held from the Polytechnic to the US Embassy on Vassilisis Sophias Avenue. Police are to surround the Polytechnic immediately after the march begins – when the complex will close to all visitors – to prevent extremists from entering the building where, due to university asylum, they would enjoy immunity from arrest unless academic authorities called in the police. Polytechnic officials and students will also guard the building from today on a 24-hour basis, while the university governing board implied that it was prepared to lift the asylum if necessary. «We will be in a state of readiness, and may decide to stop the celebrations at any point,» Deputy Chancellor Andreas Andreopoulos told Kathimerini. «We will not put up with riotous behavior. Both our students and broader public opinion are opposed to such acts.»

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