ATHENS – The anarchist group Rouvikonas added Greece’s Finance Ministry to the targets it has infiltrated with the police unable to stop them despite reports officials were closing in on the group that has proved unstoppable.
It was the 89th time members had been able to breach security or break into an office or assault a building, this time some 30 of them getting as far as the sixth floor of the ministry, home to Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos, a Marxist economist blamed for surrendering to international creditors and agreeing to more austerity measures that have devastated the lives of many while the rich, politicians and tax cheats have escaped a more than 7 ½-year long economic crisis with little or no sacrifice.
They scattered fliers and shouted slogans against the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras who took office with promise to reverse austerity that included big pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions, worker firings and the sale of state assets only to continue them on orders of international lenders.
The group was particularly incensed the government, which includes the pro-austerity, marginal, jingoistic Independent Greeks (ANEL) had rammed through Parliament a law limiting the right-to-strike, breaking another Tsipras vow, as well as letting banks foreclose on people’s homes, including online to get around protesters who face jail if they interfere.
Police officers in the minister’s security detail locked the door to Tsakalotos, Kathimerini said but again, continuing a pattern of non-interference with Rouvikonas, no one was arrested or detained and the group was allowed to carry out its raid.
That comes amid ongoing criticism that Tsipras and SYRIZA are looking the other way to restore their Leftist credentials after surrendering to the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) to get a third bailout, this one for 86 billion euros ($104.88 billion) that Tsipras said he would never seek nor accept but did both and then whacked pensioners with more cuts and agreed to taxes on low-and-moderate income families.
Rouvikonas has continually embarrassed the government, earlier getting onto grounds of the Parliament, Defense Ministry and embassies, including an assault on the Israeli Embassy.
“We obviously didn’t expect any other reaction after today’s visit by Rouvikonas activists to the Finance Ministry,” the major rival New Democracy said, mocking Tsipras. “It’s just as well they didn’t call them a taxi to leave in,” it added in further ridicule.
In a statement posted on an anti-establishment website later, Rouvikonas described their latest target as the “lair of the plutocrat minister… the place where incomes, pensions and people’s lives are slaughtered,” a particularly harsh assessment of Tsakalotos, who as a university professor taught Marxist economic principles and is the leader of the alleged hard-core Group of 53 within SYRIZA that has violated its basic tenets.
Rouvikonas said it will step up its targets and now go hard after Greek notaries for conducting property foreclosures. “Wherever they are, whoever they are, we will find them,” another warning after breaking into one notary’s office and vandalizing it.
Rouvikonas is responsible for dozens of acts of vandalism against perceived targets, including state offices, financial agencies, media organizations and businesses.
Greek police recently said they were closing in on the group amid criticism that the government won’t allow it.
That comes after months of investigation into their activities, Kathimerini reported, and as rival political groups said the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA has condoned its violent actions. Investigators were in contact with the head of the Athens Court of First Instance, Ilias Zagoraios, about the timeline of the group’s attacks, the paper said, according to sources it didn’t identify.
Citizens’ Protection Minister Nikos Toskas, who critics said had ignored Rouvikonas attacks, stepped up the probe after the Israeli embassy was hit with a paint assault, promising his personal intervention. Reports said he wants the members finally prosecuted and facing more serious charges.
The Greek Police (ELAS) file refers to 87 criminal acts attributed to Rouvikonas, ranging from the occupation of the offices of leftist SYRIZA in March 2015 to the Israeli Embassy attack.
It also includes another on a Rouvikonas raid at a doctor’s office at the capital’s Evangelismos Hospital last October, where he said he was threatened to stop taking bribes to perform surgery. There was no indication whether he would be investigated for that alleged crime, common among doctors, most of whom get away with it.
Of the first 87 activities, 28 were carried out in 2015, 16 in 2016 and 43 last year, the report is said to have outlined, with the first in 2015 when alleged members vandalized the John S. Latsis Benefit Foundation in Kifissia, the affluent northern Athens suburb.
Most recently, charges were brought against 18 people in October following the occupation of the Spanish Embassy in Athens.Τhe 18 were found guilty of disturbing the peace and refusing to have their fingerprints taken before being released.