ATHENS – On the heels of the anarchist group Rouvikonas struck two targets with fliers after invasions, Greek police said they stopped a car with four passengers heading for the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) where Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was set to speak and found sledge-hammers and gas masks in the trunk.
The vehicle was stopped on the national highway on the way to Greece’s second-largest city where the Radical Left SYRIZA leader on Sept. 8 will kick off the event – which this year has the United States as the featured guest.
One of the four suspects had been arrested in 2014 for illegal weapons possession, while the other three are known by police as active anarchists, SKAI TV reported. Police said they believed the quartet was going to TIF.
Tsipras, once the darling of anarchists, is now a target after reneging on anti-austerity promises and burying workers, pensioners and the poor with more brutal conditions while walking away from pledges to put a 75 percent tax on the rich, hunt down tax cheats and crush the oligarchy.
Despite that, his party is still riddled with anarchist and terrorist sympathizers and the major rival New Democracy said he is condoning the rampaging Rouvikonas in a bid to re-establish radical credentials after surrendering to Capitalist bankers.
With elections required to be held by October, 2019, Tsipras is expected to announce as much as 750 million euros ($873.43 million) in handouts in a bid to regain favor with voters after falling to as low as 10 percent in polls at one point and with New Democracy having big leads in surveys.
Dozens of protest rallies have also been organized by unions in Thessaloniki but a battalion of riot police will try to keep them as far away from the event and Tsipras as possible so he won’t be confronted by demonstrators.
Concerns about possible violence breaking out at some of these rallies has prompted the police to increase its presence in Thessaloniki, with more patrols and roadblocks, said Kathimerini.
Conservative opposition leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said SYRIZA and Tsipras are showing “outrageous tolerance” for lawlessness after Rouvikonas hit again.
“There can be no democracy without the implementation of the rule of law, and there can be no prosperity without a feeling of security,” said Mitsotakis, who pledged to “restore security across the country” after members of the group entered the headquarters of the Federation of Northern Greece Industrialists in downtown Thessaloniki, scattering fliers that declared “war on the war of the bosses.”
The group also forced its way into the building of the Agricultural Development Ministry in Athens, where they also distributed fliers. Thessaloniki police detained a small group who tried to throw fliers from the top of the White Tower, a waterfront monument, the port’s landmark site.
“I cannot accept that an entire country is humiliated every week by an organization which chooses to take the law into its own hands and by a government which merely looks on in a provocatively indifferent way,” Mitsotakis said.
He said the government believes it is philosophically aligned with the anarchists, who aren’t returning the favor. “Perhaps activities of this nature remind it of its own past,” he said. Rouvikonas has hit dozens of targets with near-impunity.