Tag Archives: Liana Kanelli

Golden Dawn slowly forms its very own Jugend

If the future historian will try to describe Golden Dawn’s course to mainstream politics and its attempt to consolidate its presence there, he will most probably be able to write about a very organized plan. He will have the luxury to connect the dots. These dots is what we are living these years, it’s the news coming from the far-right camp, digested easily one by one.

The racist attacks is a good example. A previously rare news item has almost become a daily thing. No one is surprised. The violence in public display (see the slapping of Communist MP Liana Kanelli on tv, the bullying outside Chyterio theatre, etc) is another example which, by now, has easily been digested by many. I remember Kanelli after an unsuccessful prank by some comedians who disguised like Golden Dawn thugs and “ambushed” her in a corridor of SKAI TV. She went back to the studio and, in tears, warned that if Golden Dawn’s violence becomes a joke, this will mean that we have accepted it as a new reality.

Dimitris Hantzopoulos TA NEA 28-02-13

Dimitris Hantzopoulos – Ta Nea newspaper (28-02-13)

The next dot in the plan is the consolidation of last year’s gains. Golden Dawn has drawn all the centre-right and far-right voters it could attract. Now they must look into the future, the kids. Step 1: High Schools. Some weeks ago I started researching the story for an international documentary. I spoke with several teachers and they were all complaining about kids flirting with the far-right. Some for joke, others for bullying, in the end they would mention “patriotism”. A friend of mine, a teacher at an Athens High School, gave a lecture to his class about Golden Dawn’s attacks and practices. A kid stood up and told him: “You are not allowed to talk politics in here, sir!”. He was surprised. I asked him if he stopped and he told me: “Of course not! I simply started talking to them about Nazism” . Some weeks later one of his students described to him the good time he had when he went to Golden Dawn’s annual march.

By Kostas Koufogiorgos Eleftherotypia (28-02-13)

By Kostas Koufogiorgos Eleftherotypia (28-02-13)

Last week, my very good colleague and friend, Yannis Papadopoulos, wrote for TA NEA newspaper a scathing report about Golden Dawn’s intrusion into Greek schools. I’m translating an excerpt from his article.

… Apostolis and his friends were waiting for me outside the school’s entrance. This is where he carried out his first attack. His hands are in his pockets, his face has that teenage touch. He is 15 years old and he beats immigrants. “Whenever we see a Pakistani, we hunt him down” he says. “If Golden Dawn has reasons to do so, so do we”.  Right here the hunting begins as soon as the school ends.

“I’ve seen him standing over that pole. I ran and fell over him, together with another guy and we started beating him” says Apostolis. “I have beaten several of them. Ten, fifteen. Something like that. When the teachers at school find out I usually lie, saying that I was provoked… We are not Golden Dawn members, we do this as a hobby. Everyone without papers must be beaten” says George, 14 years old.

17 year old Dimitris, a Golden Dawn member from another Athens school says “Sooner or later these kids will too join Golden Dawn”.

Two days ago, Golden Dawn revealed Step 2. They posted on their official website a text and some photos that took things even further. To younger ages.

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The event was paradoxically called “Kids’ conformation”, after a famous 20th century magazine whose most famous editor in chief was Grigorios Xenopoulos, himself a socialist. According to Golden Dawn, the kids were taught by trained teachers who somehow managed to fit in one class topics like the ancient Greek Thought, the ancient Gods of Olympus and the Christian Faith. Whatever help this nation stay together.

Panos Zacharis 10-13

“… and then Alexander the Great made the sign of the Cross and attacked the Turks by saying “I’ll f**ck you, you Albanian fag**ts!!!” by Panos Zacharis (October 2012)

I am living in the present. And these news stories are just dots. If you ask me “Do you know where all this is going at?”, I will say No. But it rings some bells.

I simply hope that the future historian will be living in an a country free enough to write about it.

Watering down Golden Dawn

Lots of friends and readers of this blog have been asking me to write something about the rise of the far-right in Greece. I repeatedly postponed such a post because I wanted to write something long, well-documented and details. But, hey, what can be said with several thousands words is now squeezed in a couple of seconds. Here they are. No further comment needed.

All political parties have condemned the attack. Golden Dawn issued a statement saying that Ilias Kasidiaris, who apart from an MP also happens to be the party’s press officer, was provoked by Liana Kanelli. Mr Kasidiaris was initially provoked when Rena Dourou of the radical left-wing Syriza party mentioned his alleged involvement in an armed robbery in 2007. His trial for this incident was supposed to take place yesterday but it was postponed for June 11.

The Athens prosecutor has ordered an arrest warrant against Kasidiaris but he is still at large. I wonder how he’ll appear in his pre-election campaign.

Nikos Mihaloliakos and Eleni Zaroulia (his wife, wearing a German cross ring) arrive at the Greek Parliament on their first day as MPs. The Parliament was dissolved within 48 hours to call for another round of elections.

Since their 7% in the last elections, I was always saying that their media gaffes would kill them. The biggest one was with their first press conference the evening of elections’ day. Until this one. Now the question is, will they ever manage to enter the Greek Parliament again?

On yogurts as a form of political protest in Greece

The co-ruling PASOK party had its national conference today. Its goal is to elect the new party leader who will succeed George Papandreou and will lead the Socialists in the coming elections. The candidates are Christos Papoutsis and Evangelos Venizelos. At some point, an old man, member of PASOK himself, approached Venizelos, complained about the cuts in his pension and then threw him a yogurt before being carried out by bodyguards outside the hall.

This is the latest in a series of food throwing that has reemerged during the past two years of the crisis as a means of political protest.

Greek yogurt

Originally, “yogurt throwing” was a means of protest against authority by Greek youngsters in the late 1950s. They were called “Teddy Boys”, a name borrowed from the homonymous British subculture. You see, food throwing was traditionally a form of protest (preferable rotten eggs or tomatoes) but it was only in 1950s when the plastic cup substituted yogurt’s classic ceramic pot, a marketing move that made yogurt a non-lethal weapon. The trend of yogurt-throwing was fiercely fought by the authorities with the legendary “Law 4000/1958” according to which offenders were arrested, had their heads shaved and paraded through the streets of Athens.

A teddy boy is paraded in the streets of Athens with his head shaved.

The law also inspired a movie (Law 4000). Here’s a great excerpt that needs no subtitles.

The law was withdrawn in 1983, by Andreas Papandreou. In 1997, a builder who was member of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) threw a yogurt on the then Minister of Employment, Miltiadis Papaioannou (now Minister of Justice) and his then Deputy Minister Christos Protopappas (now PASOK’s Parliamentary Group Representative) . The court decided that yogurt throwing was not an offense that had to be tried automatically but only if a lawsuit is filed by the victim.

During the past two years of the Greek crisis, attacks by angry citizens against politicians have become a frequent phenomenon. At the beginning there were verbal attacks, in restaurants and in the streets. Politicians began to walk less freely in the street without bodyguards, especially after Kostis Hatzidakis, a New Democracy MP, was brutally attacked by protesters in December of 2010.

The verbal attacks are still the norm wherever politicians appear in public (e.g. see what happened in the 28th October military parades – btw these days the government had a meeting to assess the security situation in view of the 25th of March Independence Day parades) Soon food throwing reappeared. The most popular “weapons” have been yogurt, eggs and, at times, tomatoes.

According to an article of Eleftherotypia newspaper, written by Georgia Linardou, in 2011 two members of the government and one MP have been attacked with yogurts. Last March, the vice president of the government Theodoros Pangalos was attacked while having dinner at a town just outside Athens. Some months later, Minister of Interior Haris Kastanidis was attacked in a similar fashion while watching “Midnight in Paris” at a cinema in Thessaloniki. Liana Kanelli, an MP with the Communist Party of Greece, has also been attacked with yogurt in June 2011, while she was trying to get through a block of protesters in order to reach the Parliament for the vote on the Mid-Term Program.

As for attacks with eggs, the list is longer, probably thanks to the different characteristics of this sort of food when used as a missile (their position on the day of the attack):

  • Manolis Othonas, Deputy Minister for Citizen Protection
  • Ilias Mosialos, Minister of State
  • Kostas Skandalidis, Deputy Minister of Agriculture
  • Andreas Loverdos, Minister of Health
  • Anna Diamantopoulou, Minister of Education
  • Giorgos Petalotis, Government Spokesman

Also:

  • Asterios Rontoulis, MP with LAOS
  • Dora Bakoyanis, Democratic Alliance party leader
  • Spiros Taliadouros, MP with New Democracy

In 2010 Alekos Alavanos was also attacked, with yogurts, during SYRIZA’s campaign for that year’s local elections.

Many politicians have criticized this form of protest. KKE’s leader, Aleka Papariga, has said that yogurt-throwers are people who have voted for PASOK or New Democracy and that the act itself is not some particular act of resistance but rather a bourgeois reaction that defuses the social discontent. Deputy Minister of Regional Development, Sokratis Xinidis, preferred some self-criticism when he said “The time has come for all of us to pay the price. I am ready to be thrown a yogurt…”

There’s a great article about the presence of food in Greek politics. It’s called “Bread, Milk, and the Greek Parliamentary Record” and is written by Leo Vournelis, here. Another interesting aspect can be read in “Eating in Times of Financial Crisis” also hosted on the website of the Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition.

Finally, let me remind the readers of a historical recurrence. This is the second time that Evangelos Venizelos is trying to win the leadership of PASOK. The first time was back in 2007, in a mutiny-styled manoeuvre when he appeared as a candidate practically on the same night his party, then led by George Papandreou, lost the elections. In the following days few cared about the newly elected government – the top story was what was happening inside PASOK. In those polarized (for PASOK supporters) times, another party member threw a coffee on Venizelos while he was entering the party offices.

What I still remember from that video is Venizelos’ reaction. See at 1:33 for a better a view of it. Scary isn’t it?

UPDATE: Another interesting read is “The Dangers of Yoghurtification as a Political Movement in Greece“.