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Live blog on the June 15 protests

June 15, 2011

OK, readers, the 24-hour journalists’ strike has been called off officially from 12 noon, meaning we can now do the job we do best by informing you of developments from today’s general strike in Greece against the latest round of austerity measures and higher taxes.

If you feel like following the developments yourself, the most common Twitter hashags seem to be: #greekrevolution, #syntagma and #15jgr


Note: newest updates are first

23.30 OK, folks, it’s been a long day. We’re signing off.

23.29 According to the constitution, the confidence vote will take place Sunday, after a two-day debate.

23.11 Antonis Samaras, leader of main opposition New Democracy, spoke some minutes ago. He said an historic chance has been lost. He had believed that his party could work with Pasok and that Papandreou was prepared to stand down for this to happen. But in the end, Papandreou seemed to have changed his mind about a crossparty government after details of his were leaked to the public.

21.46 PAPANDREOU has spoken. He said that he will announce a new government tomorrow, without the participation of opposition parties, and will put the new cabinet to parliament for a vote of confidence.

21.44 We’re still here! What’s been happening? Government sources have confirmed rumours leaked earlier by main opposition New Democracy, that Prime Minister George Papandreou was prepared to step down if this would allow a cooperation or all-party government to be formed.

17.52 State-run Net television is reporting that George Papandreou said he is prepared to accept the formation of a coalition government, even under the premiership of someone else

17.41 Indignants are returning to “reclaim” Syntagma Square for peaceful protest. Net TV is showing an injured person being carried out on a stretcher from the entrance to the metro station.

17.12 The prime minister had a 20-minute phone conversation with Antonis Samaras, leader of main opposition New Democracy, which has refused to reveal any details of the conversation.

17.08 More trouble for the government’s vanishing majority as Pasok MP Dinos Vrettos calls for the resignation of the cabinet.

15.42 There is now a fullscale riot taking place on Syntagma. Many Indignant protesters have remained, amid charges that the violence has been orchestrated. Alter TV has been broadcasting a photography showing youths gathering projectiles and loading them into shopping trolleys while riot police look on.

14:52 Petrol bombs have been thrown at police standing outside Syntagma post office.

14.48 Details of the content of the prime minister’s telephone conversations with party leaders have emerged. According to Aleka Papariga, general secretary of the Communist Party, Papandreou emphasised that consensus was needed in order for Greece to obtain additional loans from the European Union. He also mentioned the possibility of a referendum. Papariga rejected his proposals, saying elections were the only way forward.

14:45 It has been reported that Tasos Tellolglou, a journalist with Skai TV and Kathimerini, was punched in the face by a protester and has been taken to hospital. His injuries are not thought to be serious.

14:43 The meeting between the prime minister and president about an hour ago. Prime Minister Papandreou said he would make an address to the nation later in the afternoon after consulting with the leaders of the political parties.

14:25 Things have quietened down on Syntagma. Thousands of protesters and police remain in the general area.

14:06 Tweets say that the medical centre run by the Indignants on Syntagma Square is treating four injured people.

13:45 Groups of black-clad youths wearing masks or helmets, better known as koukouloforoi in Greek, are throwing stones and bottles at police lines outside parliament. Indignant protesters have demanded they cease violent actions. TV scenes have shown koukouloforoi attacking Indignant supporters, while the police retain their position at the entrance to Vass Sofias Ave and in front of parliament.

On Rigillis Street, behind parliament, confrontation is continuing between riot police and demonstrators.

13:21 Large numbers of the Indignants can be seen leaving the area in front of parliament, via the steps leading down to Syntagma Square, as hooded youths arrive at the of Hotel Grande Bretagne.

13:15 Skai TV are showing live footage of masked youths armed with sticks on Syntagma Square. Protesters from the Indignant movement, who have been on the square since May 25, are challenging the masked youths, obviously in order to keep the protests peaceful.

13:11 George Papandreou has just been received by State President Karolos Papoulias. The prime minister says that this is an historic period for Greece, that he has been regular contact with other party leaders, that the government must press on responsibly to lift the country out of the crisis.Nothing new there, but the meeting will now continue behind closed doors.

13:08 There have been scuffles between riot police and protesters on Rigillis St, behind parliament. A number of people have tweeted that teargas has been fired on Rigillis and on Vassilissis Sofias.

13:00 Health Minister Andreas Loverdos has told Real FM that the prime minister does not intend to call elections, my colleague Costas Papachlimintzos has just tweeted.

12.27 Of course, the big news today is that Prime Minister George Papandreou has requested an extraordinary meeting with State President Karolos Papoulias. Speculation is rampant about that the agenda of the meeting could be, with rumours circulating on the formation of a coalition government or the calling of snap elections. Papandreou’s move comes after a two Pasok MPs withdrew their support for the government, bringing its parliamentary majority down to just four seats.

12.22 The steel barrier doesn’t seem to be most secure and Skai TV footage shows that protesters have already managed to pull sections of it apart.

12.08 Thousands of protesters have gathered in central Athens for the 24-hour strike against the austerity measures. There are no estimates yet of how many have turned out. Some reports say the human chain which the Indignant protesters wished to place around parliament stretches from Syntagma to the Hilton Hotel and around to the War Museum. Using a steel barrier, purchased three years ago and similar to a type used in the anti-globalisation protests in Genoa, police created a corridor to allow MPs enter parliament. TV footage earlier showed the MPs driving through police cordons into parliament, to the abuse of protesters. Skai TV has reported that demonstrators hurled water bottles at the car carrying Prime Minister George Papandreou.


No longer in operation

December 26, 2010

As you may have noticed from the dateline below that precedes the 2009 Greek Elections and the entire financial crisis, Athens News blog is defunct and has been for awhile. Many apologies to those who have tried to comment on our posts and gotten the perpetual ‘out to lunch’ sign.

The good news though is that this endeavour was not for nought and Athens News (now Greece’s only English weekly) has overhauled its web operation.

Check out for Greece in English.

Controversy corner: An ominous precedent

September 11, 2009
A statue of Eleftherios Venizelos in Thessaloniki (cc) flickr user macropoulos

A statue of Eleftherios Venizelos in Thessaloniki (cc) flickr user macropoulos

Controversy corner includes opinions, analysis and commentary “out of the Athens News covers”.

THERE IS only one precedent in the history of modern Greece when a prime minister allegedly called an ‘unscheduled’ election for the purpose of losing it. And that was Eleftherios Venizelos, arguably the country’s greatest statesman; the man whose unrivalled diplomatic and political acumen had single-handedly doubled Greece’s sovereign territories in less than ten years (1912-1919).

Read more…

Why can’t we just flush it?

September 9, 2009

Athens News was recently asked the question below, though not in so many words. This, you could say, is our own interpretation:

Why, in the birthplace of democracy and the land of ancient marvels, am I forced to endure the indignity (not to mention the smell) of having to toss the tissue I used to wipe my bum into tiny garbage pails filled with other people’s sodden, stinky scraps?

That is a very good question, and Athens News has the answer.

Read more…

Larco plant accidents claim another life

September 8, 2009
tags: ,
Click the logo to go to Larco's Web site:

Click the logo to go to Larco's Web site:

Two accidents in one month at the Larco plant in Larymna have now killed three employees of the metallurgical company and injured at least two others.

Read more…

A capital caper

September 7, 2009
Parts of the Parthenon were not pinched, but it does have colossal capitals. Apologies for the alliteration. Photo by Erinn Unger.

Parts of the Parthenon were not pinched, but it does have colossal capitals. Apologies for the alliteration. Photo by Erinn Unger.

A thief made off with a capital from the archaeological site of Ancient Olympia, according to the AP.

The capital, which was part of a 6th century Byzantine church on the site, was discovered to be missing right before midnight on Saturday, the ministry of culture says. Authorities don’t know how someone could have managed to leave the site with a large chunk of column without being detected.

The local head of antiquities has been suspended without pay pending an investigation into the pilfering of the portion of the pillar.

Snap elections called: A primer on the parties

September 3, 2009
Ahead in the polls, PASOK has been waiting a long time for this moment. This cartoon is from last December. photo from
Photo from last December via

After months of speculation and political calculus, Greece will have its general election on October 4.

Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis – of reigning but faltering New Democracy -announced the snap polls in a nationwide television address 8pm Wednesday night.

PASOK rejoiced at the news. The opposition has held a slim but clear lead in the polls throughout 2009. This could be the moment George Papandreou truly assumes the mantle of his father, Andreas. His party had already announced a 35th anniversary celebration for tonight in Thissio via Twitter.

If this June’s Europarliament elections were any indication ND and Pasok are not the only players in these polls. Stalwart KKE, upstart Laos and sputtering Syriza may all complicate the parliamentary map.

Here’s a look at each major party (and their web offerings) a month before the polls. Read more…