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Arson Attacks, Soccer Club Brawl in Athens Linked to Anarchist Pushback

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Exarchia neighborhood in Athens. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Stelios Misinas, file)

ATHENS - Anarchist groups driven out of their former stronghold in the Exarchia neighborhood by repeated police raids appear behind a rash of arson attacks and a soccer fan club brawl to set themselves up elsewhere, police said as they probe the incidents.

With the May 4 gradual lifting of a lockdown aimed at preventing the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus, investigators not identified told Kathimerini that the anti-establishment groups may be trying to create violence at youth gatherings on public squares and carrying out arson attacks at the Evelpidon Street court complex, on a branch of the Athens Traffic Police and on several supermarkets and courier services.

Some of those incidents were in or around the district of Kypseli, where a group of self-styled anarchists clashed with members of a local AEK soccer team fan club, and a neighborhood with a major court.

Sources told the paper that investigators are looking into whether the clashes were a reaction by the soccer club and hooligans to keep the anarchists out although it wasn’t said if the notorious group Rouvikonas was involved.

The New Democracy government kept a pledge to clear out Exarchia of anarchists and lawlessness apart from a foreign car vandalism ring that’s been busting vehicle windows and stealing goods inside and threatening people trying to stop them.

Exarchia had long been the bastion of anarchists with its proximity to universities that used to have sanctuary against police presence before that was lifted by the government in a bid to go after criminals and drug dealers.