ATHENS – Adding to Greece’s problem with terrorists and anti-establishment gangs, a new anarchist group called Comrades for the Dissemination of Exarchia said it was behind a wave of attacks on banks and offices of the ruling New Democracy which said it would squash violence.
Exarchia is the anarchist-dominated neighborhood in a key downtown area of the Greek capital that has seen frequent clashes between the groups and squadrons of riot police pelted with Molotov Cocktails and firing tear gas in response.
The major anarchist group Rouvikonas, which ran amok during the 4 1/2-year reign of the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA that was sympathetic to their cause, repeatedly hit banks, foreign embassies and political offices among other targets.
New Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis he would end that, clear out Exarchia and then spruce it up with an anti-graffiti campaign, a new Metro station, trees and a bigger police presence as Rouvikonas said it would take on the police who’ve been emptying abandoned buildings of squatters and rounding up criminals and drug dealers.
The new group went after the banks and New Democracy in a series of coordinated assaults on Sept. 16 and posted a statement on an anti-establishment website saying it wanted to protect Exarchia because police view it as “a symbol of everything that power wants to repress.”
Signaling a change in tactics from hitting a single site as other groups did, the Exarchia anarchists carried out four attacks in 30 minutes, hitting straight back at Mitsotakis’ vow to stop lawlessness in the area.
Earlier this month, protesters marched over in the downtown to demand an end to police going into the neighborhood but there’s no sign the government will back down and attacks are being carried on in other areas, with a New Democracy office hit.