Monday, December 07, 2009

Just like clockwork one year after the police murder of Alexandros Grigoropoulos Greece erupted once more into rioting. The underlying causes are, after all. still there. Here's how these recent events have been seen by The Guardian in England.
Greek riots continue into second day:
More clashes during Athens demonstration over fatal police shooting last year of teenager Alexis Grigoropoulos

Comment: The Greek revolution that never was

Street riots continue in Athens

Link to this video
Protesters smashed store windows and threw rocks and firebombs at riot police who responded with teargas today, the second day of violence during commemorations for a teenager shot dead by police a year ago.

The killing of 15-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos led to two weeks of rioting in Greece last year, with gangs of youths smashing, looting and burning shops across the country in protest at heavy-handed police tactics.

Today's clashes broke out during a demonstration by about 3,000 people, mostly secondary school pupils, through the centre of Athens. Several dozen youths towards the back of the march attacked riot police with rocks, firebombs and firecrackers, smashing some of the bus stops, telephone booths and shopfronts not damaged in yesterday's demonstration.

Protesters injured a passerby who attempted to intervene, beating him unconscious. Police detained at least three youths. Demonstrators scrawled anti-police graffiti and stencilled a photograph of Grigoropoulos on shop windows and walls along the demonstration route.

Minor clashes broke out during a march of about 2,000 people in Thessaloniki, Greece's second largest city, where police fired teargas to disperse youths pelting them with rocks.

Police said at least 16 officers and five demonstrators were injured yesterday, while 177 people were detained in Athens and another 103 in Thessaloniki. One policeman who lost control of his motorbike struck and injured a female pedestrian, who was tended to by demonstrators until an ambulance arrived.

At Athens University, masked protesters broke into the building, injuring the university's dean and pulling down a Greek flag, replacing it with a black and red anarchist banner. The clashes continued late into the night, and police clashed with protesters in the southern city of Patras and the north-western city of Ioannina.

Last night the civil protection minister, Michalis Chrisochoidis, defended tougher tactics used by police, following criticism from a left wing opposition party. "Police detentions, when justified, are not illegal in a democratic society. Neither is it illegal for judicial officials to press charges," he said. "Vandals and hooligans have nothing to do with democracy."
And, from another point of view, here are how they are seen at the British LibCom site.
Riots and police brutality on first day of Alexandros Grigoropoulos murder anniversary:
Riots have broken out in Athens and Salonica during the first day of A. Grigoropoulos murder anniversary with police demonstrating extreme brutality leaving two people seriously wounded by a motorised charge on the Athens march.

Police brutality during the marches to commemorate the first anniversary of Alexandros Grigoropoulos murder surpassed any limit today, in a coordinated operation of barbarity and crude violence against protesters across Greece. Under socialist orders police violence has left dozens of people wounded.

In Athens the protest march called at 13:00 in Propylea was attacked by riot police forces before even starting. Protesters fought back erecting flaming barricades and forcing the police to retreat with use of rocks. Protesters also occupied the rectorial headquarters of the University of Athens in Propylea, lowering the Greek flag and flying a black flag in its place. The march continued to Omonoia square where more clashes took place and several shops were destroyed -one consumed in flames. At Syntagma square motorised police forces (Delta team) charged the march from Ermou street. After the charge the Delta-team thugs dismounted and threw rocks at the protesters. As a cause of the police orgy in violence, an elderly member of the Worker’s Revolutionary Party-Trotskyist (EEK) has been reported to be in serious condition due to head injuries: Ms Koutsoumbou, a veteran prisoner of the anti-dictatorship struggle, was hit by a Delta force motorbike during the mounted charge on the crowd. According to Savas Michail, leading member of EEK and major radical philosopher, Ms Koutsoumbou is in intensive care having received far worse hits than during her tortures by the colonels' junta. One more man has been hospitalised with serious injuries. At the time 60 people are reported detained.

In Salonica the 3,000 strong protest march turned violent when riot police attacked it without any provocation with tear gas and blast grenades. Clashes ensued along the main avenue of the city. The police surrounded some 200 protesters outside the Ministry of Macedonia and Thrace, but were liberated by the rest of the march. The previous night the police broke the university asylum in the Salonica Polytechnic arresting 8 people who the authorities claim had attacked the International Expo with molotov cocktails. The march in Salonica has not been concluded at the time of writing and the situation is particularly tense as the protesters are returning to the main avenue to protest against police brutality.

In Larissa the protest march proceeded through the main streets of the city smashing CCTV cameras, coming under attack by riot police forces. The protesters erected barricades and engaged the cops with stones and other projectiles.

There is little information about the course of the marches in other Greek cities.

At the same time, the 21 people arrested in the anarchist social centre Resalto last night have been charged under the notorious anti-terrorist law for construction and distribution of explosives (beer bottles and two bottles of heating oil).

The protest marches for the 1st anniversary of Alexandros Grigoropoulos murder by cops will continue on Monday, while at 21:00 on Sunday there will be a memorial demo at the spot of his shooting in Exarcheia.
The present "socialist" PASOC government is proving to be at least as brutal and perhaps more so than the previous conservative one of last year. One might wonder why ? Perhaps it is because they have other masters whom they have to serve. Who these puppet-masters might be is suggested by the following article from the business website Market Watch. It seems the Greek government is trying to step through a lot of different doo-doo, and creative accounting no longer serves to hide their problems.
Greek stocks fall 3% amid deficit worries; S&P may cut rating:
Protesters and police clash on anniversary of youth's death:

By Polya Lesova, MarketWatch
FRANKFURT (MarketWatch) -- Stocks in Greece fell nearly 3% on Monday, as Standard & Poor's warned it may lower the country's credit rating because of the ballooning government deficit.

In Athens, the benchmark ASE stock index dropped 2.7% to 2,318 points, underperforming other European markets. See full story.

In comparison, the pan-European Dow Jones Stoxx 600 index /quotes/comstock/22c!sxxp (ST:SXXP 247.88, -1.15, -0.46%) edged down 0.3%.

The Greek financial sector was hit hard. Shares of National Bank of Greece /quotes/comstock/13*!nbg/quotes/nls/nbg (NBG 6.03, -0.29, -4.59%) fell 5.6% and those of Piraeus Bank SA dropped 4% in intraday trading.

Shares of EFG Eurobank Ergasias declined 6%, while Alpha Bank declined 3.3%.
Cyprus-based Marfin Popular Bank PCL fell 5.1%.

In other sectors, Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Co. /quotes/comstock/13*!cch/quotes/nls/cch (CCH 23.97, +0.34, +1.44%) gained 2.4%.

Shares of property developer Babis Vovos International Construction tumbled 6.7%.

The sell-off came as Standard & Poor's placed on Monday Greece's A- long-term sovereign credit rating on a credit watch with negative implications, meaning that the agency may lower the rating.

S&P said it plans to decide on the rating when it receives more information from the Greek authorities on their plans to counter intensifying economic and fiscal pressures.

The agency may downgrade the rating by one notch to BBB+ if it sees the government's fiscal assumptions as "unrealistic."

"The fiscal consolidation plans outlined by the new government are unlikely to secure a sustained reduction in fiscal deficits and the public debt burden," said S&P credit analyst Marko Mrsnik in a statement.

The government of Prime Minister Georgios Papandreou, which took office in October, has recently acknowledged the large budget shortfall it inherited from its predecessor.

The estimate for this year's deficit was raised to 12.7% of gross domestic product, more than six percentage points higher than previous official projections.

Previous administrations have repeatedly misreported fiscal deficits, S&P said.
Deficit concerns
Worries over Greece's ballooning budget deficit have been growing in recent weeks.

Greek banks have underperformed the European financial sector by about 12% during the last month, and the uncertainty over Greece's fiscal position is the main reason for this underperformance, wrote Alexander Kyrtsis, an analyst at UBS, in a note to clients dated Friday.

The other key reasons are the banks' reliance on the European Central Bank's discount window as well as credibility issues following numerous restatements of the situation with public finances, according to UBS.

"Liquidity at the Greek banks is good, therefore gradual ECB disengagement is not a major issue and the related earnings impact will be small," Kyrtsis said.

"The only way to bring the deficit down is to tighten fiscal policy," he said. "Fiscal tightening in the form of direct and indirect taxes and limited government spending is likely to result in a drag on Greece's GDP, thus affecting loan growth and asset quality."

UBS lowered its rating on Piraeus Bank to neutral from buy, but it maintained buy ratings on EFG Eurobank, Alpha Bank and Marfin Popular Bank. It also reiterated its neutral rating on National Bank of Greece.

Separately, police and protesters clashed in Athens amid marches to commemorate the first anniversary of the police shooting of a teenager, according to media reports.

The latest disturbances were a continuation of clashes that started over the weekend and resulted in the arrest of dozens of protesters, reports said on Monday.

The killing of a 15-year-old last December triggered extensive riots in Greece, but the scale of the latest protests is reportedly much smaller.
Finally, here's another report from LibCom about day 2 of the contest between the government and protesters.
Second day of clashes in Greece in anniversary of Alexandros Grigoropoulos murder:
A second day of protest marches occupations and clashes across Greece marked the first anniversary of Alexandros Grigoropoulos murder as pupils take to the streets.

The second day of the anniversary of Alexandros Girgoropoulos murder was marked with protest marches, occupations and large scale riots in major Greek cities.

Monday was the day of pupils as pan-educational marches against police brutality and in memory of Alexis were staged in all major Greek cities with the Teachers Union and ADEDY (major umbrella union) calling a 3-hour labour stopage to allow people to attend the marches.

In Athens, people started gathering at Propylea at 12:00. Quickly a mass of 13-17 year old pupils attacked riot police forces gathered on Akadimias street. The pupils first attacked the cops with oranges but soon escalated with use of rocks and broken marbles. The police was forced to retreat many times in a rain of projectiles before the march finally started its way towards the Parliament. During the clashes before the beginning of the march 9 people were arrested. Riot police forces came soon again under attack by protesters and resorted to extensive use of tear gas. More clashes occurred before Omonoia square. The 10,000 strong march continued to Klafthmonos square where the march halted due to riot police forces positioning themselves along its sides on the pavement. Marchers demanded the immediate removal of police forces, and started moving only after this was granted. The march then reached Syntagma square and the Greek parliament. On the way back to Propylea the march found the university asylum blocked by riot police forces which engaged the front of the march forcing the protesters to move towards Omonoia, many seeking refuge at the Polytechneio.
Clashes between protesters around the Polytechneio and police forces ensued throughout the afternoon, until the Polytechnic occupation made an exodus in the form of a march at around 18:30 towards Omonoia square where more clashes took place. Unlike yesterday there was no use of the delta-team in the repression operations.

At the same time smaller marches of pupils took to the streets of many Athens neighborhoods. In Kalithea 150 pupils attacked the local police station with sticks rocks and oranges damaging several police cars. In Patisia, 200 pupils attacked the local police station at Agias Lavras with rocks. In Kesariani pupils attacked their local police station with rocks and oranges.

In Salonica a 5,000 strong protest march took to the streets of the city and was soon attacked with tear gas by the riot police triggering a response in stones. When the march returned to the Polytechneio, delta team police thugs broke into the university asylum with their motorbikes and threw tear gas canisters into the building, detaining several people. As a response to the third violation of university asylum in the city during the last three days, protesters occupied the rectorial headquarters of the Aristotelian University. Later a protest march was formed against police brutality and marched again on the streets of the city.

In Ioannina more than 1,500 people marched in the streets of the city attacking capitalist and state targets. Battles developed between the protesters and the police after the former attacked the courts of the city.

In Larissa a thousand strong protest march took to the streets of the city, with the block of pupils attacking the riot police with oranges and rocks.

In Chania, Crete, extended clashes between protesters and riot police broke out in the centre of the city with protesters smashing banks and erecting barricades.

In Irakleio, Crete, clashes broke out between riot police forces and protesters outside the courts of the city where the arrested of yesterday's march were interrogated. The protesters attacked and damaged several police cars and a riot police van, while pupils attacked the back side of the courts themselves. At evening another march took to the streets of the city but was quickly attacked by riot police forces which managed to disperse it with use of force and tear gas.

In Rhodes, clashes broke out between riot police and protesters after the former tried to arrest an pupil attacking a bank. During the clashes one more person was arrested. As a result the protesters have occupied university premises demanding their immediate release.

In Tripoli clashes developed between pupils and riot policemen when the latter blocked the way of the pupil's march.

In the city of Kozani protesters have occupied the city hall denouncing police brutality.

In the island of Samos a pupil protest march took to the streets of Karlovasi, while another pupil protest march in Vathi attacked the local police station as well as the municipal headquarters and the city hall with eggs.

Protest marches also took place in many other towns like Naousa, on Paros island, Zakynthos, Volos and Katerini.

On the legal front, 10 people arrested on Saturday have been released from custody. During the hearing process 13-14 year old pupils from a nearby school marched to the courts erecting barricades on the streets blocking the traffic to and from the central courthouse of Athens.

Regarding the comrades of Resalto and the occupation of the Keratsini city hall, at 13:00 a demo was formed outside the courts of Peiraeus in expectation of the 21 arrested of Resalto, the anarchist social centre raided on Saturday. During the demo a local pupil's protest march joined the protesters piling the riot police guarding the courts with oranges. Meanwhile the city hall and local council of Keratsini published an announcement condemning the arrests of the occupiers of the city hall, and demanding their immediate release. According to the announcement there have been no damages done to the premises during the occupation to allow a police intervention. At 14:45 the interrogating authorities waved the anti-terrorist charges against the 21 arrested of Resalto, deciding they should be tried only for possession and of explosive substances (kerosene heating oil). At 19:00 the 41 arrested occupiers of the Keratsini city hall were released amongst high fists and solidarity slogans of protesters outside the court. They will be tried only for non-criminal offences tommow. The 21 of Resalto are still being interrogated at the time of writing.

Protest marches against police brutality in the last few days have been called for tomorrow in both Salonica and Athens.
For those interested in following events as they develop the LibCom site is excellent, and the comments that are appended to articles often give many more interesting details.
Also useful in days to come will be the following sites:
2)Athens Indymedia (English section)
3)Grecia Libertaria (for those who can read Spanish)
I will be appending other sources in the future.