ATHENS – New Citizens’ Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis, charged with restoring law-and-order and confront anarchists dominating a neighborhood in Greece’s capital, said he would make the country secure.
He had been a member of the center-left Movement for Change (KINAL) when new Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis tapped him for the position, leading him be ousted by his former party.
It was also a symbolic move by Mitsotakis as while Chrysochoidis was at the ministry overseeing citizens protection ahead of the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, the notorious Nov. 17 terrorist gang was broken up.
One of the leaders of that group, Dimitris Koufodinas, serving 11 life sentences for his role in the murders of 23 people, including 11 attached to the US Embassy over the years, had been handled with kid gloves under SYRIZA, getting seven furloughs from jail and moved from a high-security prison to a low-security work farm.
One of the last moves of former Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras ahead of the July 7 snap elections he lost to Mitsotakis was to have a Parliament essentially empty of anyone but his members pass a law paving the way for Koufodinas and other terrorist killers to get out of jail for house arrest.
Mitsotakis said he would change laws giving leniency to violent criminals and that task was put in Chrysochoidis’ lap at the same time he will have to deal with Rouvikonas, the anarchist gang that rampaged with near-impunity when Tsipras was in office, the Leftists riddled with anarchist and terrorist sympathizers.
But Chrysochoidis said he would go beyond tough policing and would bring order to agencies whose chaotic response to the July 23, 2018 wildfires led to the loss of 103 lives amid reports Tsipras tried to hide the death count while the fires raged, including the devastation of the seaside village of Mati northeast of Athens.
“Security is the greatest asset. Without security, democracy rots. We are here to work with all our strength to build a feeling of security for citizens,” Chrysochoidis said at the ministry’s handover ceremony. “All people should feel that their neighborhood belongs to them,” he added.
While he was serving in the same position in 2009-10, six suspected members of Revolutionary Struggle were arrested and he’s known as a no-nonsense guy who demands attention to duty.
He was also put in charge of the Migration Policy Ministry, saying that’s in line with the practice of other European Union countries as well.
Moving swiftly, he told Greek Police (ELAS) chief Gen. Aristidis Andrikopoulos and his deputy to quit, which they did. Andrikopoulos had been seen attending SYRIZA rallies before the election, drawing ire from New Democracy at the time.
Andrikopoulos, in civilian clothes, was spotted at the SYRIZA gatherings, chatting with ministers and officials of the party. He had been appointed by Tsipras.
Chrysochoidis’ predecessor, Olga Gerovassili, charged that the new government views police as “spoils,” while warning of “coming revanchist attacks by the new right,” after her party ironically had been accused of condoning attacks by the left.