ATHENS – The battle against the notorious anarchist group Rouvikonas will see Greece’s New Democracy government elevate some serious crimes to felonies.
Government officials who weren’t identified told Kathimerini that crimes such as disturbing the peace considered minor now will be major offenses if they include making threats, causing damage and if done repeatedly and by a gang.
“They may not use guns but their actions are characterized by violence, psychological violence,” one official told the paper about Rouvikonas, whose members do toss potentially murderous Molotov Cocktails, rocks and other objects at riot police.
The move to get even tougher during a growing campaign against Rouvikonas was seen prompted by their vandalizing the home of prominent SKAI TV journalist Aris Portosalte and as the group has been trying to stop police raids to empty their neighborhood of Exarchia of squats and go after drug dealers although residents said authorities have not corralled foreign gangs smashing car windows and looting the interiors.
The decision comes after Citizen Protection Minister Mihalis Chrysochoidis said Exarchia, where police have been cracking down on lawlessness, drug dealing and raiding squats, will be “handed back to its residents” by the end of March.
Talking at a late night television news program on SKAI TV, Chrysochoidis said the biggest problem in Exarchia has been the occupation of abandoned buildings by squatters, including those operated by anarchists.
Chrysochoidis said that after nearly five months of police operations that criminals were being reined in and that police were taking back the neighborhood for residents.
He also said an ultimatum issued his ministry issued in November, 2019 that gave squatters a deadline to get out has worked as many are negotiating rents with the buildings owners or have left entirely.