Crackdown on the Golden Dawn

GD leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos under arrest

With the arrest of several party leaders the Greek government has begun a crackdown on the far-right Golden Dawn in the wake of the murder of Pavlos Fyssas.

A crackdown on the far-right Golden Dawn(GD) is under way in Greece. Party leader, Nikolaos Michaloliakos, and several MPs and party members were arrested this morning with more expected. They are accused of participating in a criminal organisation and will go before court. The crackdown has two main targets. The first is the political party itself and the second target is its accomplices in the security services. All of this comes on the back of the murder of Pavlos Fyssas just over a week ago.

Along with Michaloliakos came the arrests of party spokesman Ilias Kasidaiaris and Giorgos Patelis who headed the Nikaia branch of GD, the same area where the murder happened. The documents presented to the court are said to consist of 33 charges amongst which are 10 counts of murder or attempted murder. The investigation into the security services has so far led to the resignation of several police generals, the removal of the head of the intelligence service and members of the Dias units. The head of the riot police units whose men were seen fighting alongside GD members in the riots on the 18th has also been removed.

It's the first time since 1974 that a party leader has been arrested in Greece and the crackdown has come as something of a surprise. Just over two weeks ago mainstream media were discussing GD's possible inclusion in a governing coalition. In the wake of the murder on the night of the 17th the media and government made a complete turn around and decided to attack GD head-on. This is not the first time that GD members have killed and the violent nature of the group has been evident for years. Many of the incidents for which GD and the security services are being investigated dated back much further than the last two weeks and the speed with which the case was prepared and presented suggest that the evidence has long been known in political and judicial circles. Question is why when the government did so little to stem the rise of GD for so long did they decide to act now?

One answer is that this time the government simply had to act. The murder caused great anger in Greece which quickly spilled over into rage on the streets. For the last ten days GD offices up and down the country have come under attack and antifascist protests have been constant. On the night of the 25th there were again protests in every major city in Greece with as many as 50,000 marching on a GD office in Athens alone. Early attempts by the media to portray the murder as the result of a brawl over a football match failed and so there was no way to down play this one. To not take some action would have but the fragile coalition government in the spotlight. By taking on GD the government has a shot at the limelight as the defenders of democracy.

Another possible reason for the crackdown could be fear. GD has recently risen to become the third most popular party in Greece and until the last few days nothing could seem to dent that popularity. Many of the voters who recently backed GD would in the past have been natural supporters of the right wing New Democracy(ND) the current leader of the coalition government. With much of GD's appeal being based on anti-systematic rhetoric ND may have despaired of ever being able to work with GD and decided something had to be done before they lost more votes.

The government may also have had its eye on the army. Collaboration between GD and the security forces has long been known. Part of the current investigation claims that members of the special forces have been giving GD members military training. A few days ago a statement by a group of special forces reservists called for the government to step down and make way for a national unity government with the army as its protector, in short it was a call for coup. Fearing that if they don't act soon they may lose control of the security services completely the government chose to act first.

After such a long period when the government ignored the actions of GD it's hard to take at face value their current claims to be the champions of democracy and justice. More likely is that ND are taking advantage of the rage caused by the murder of Pavlos Fyssas to curb a political rival. With thousands out on the street and the first drop in GD popularity the government took its chance and hopes that by imprisoning its leaders and possibly banning the party they can win back some of their lost voters. By criminalising the party all of those nationalist but hardly committed fascists who have flocked to GD may return to ND. When fascists were attacking protesters alongside police they were useful auxiliaries but once they started to become a threat to the ruling party itself they had to be reined in.

Even with the leaders of GD in prison and the leading sympathizers in the security forces removed this is far from the end of the far-right in Greece. Whilst the government may be able to win some sort of political victory from this the fascism that they fostered and allowed to grow has gone too deep to disappear in a few days. Any investigation of the police is likely to leave the majority of the 50% of the force who voted for GD untouched. By no means all of the hundreds of recorded racist attacks in Greece were committed by card carrying GD members. The influence the far-right has had over the young is unlikely to just evaporate, indeed the crackdown may only heighten this.

If the party is banned out right its anti-systematic standing will only increase with its leader urging supporters to fight on from behind bars. Freed from the pretence of being a respectable party GD hit squads may be given license to increase the violence. Those who attack immigrants and leftists will still have many sympathizers in the security forces and the population at large. Rather than marking an end to the rise of fascism the murder and the crackdown could led to an escalation of violence and a further polarization of society which could led us to a very dark place. At the back of many people's minds is the possibility that we may be on the road to civil war. The idea seems extreme and certainly there's a long away to go before that but such a catastrophe is no longer unthinkable.

Whatever the result of this political manoeuvre the fight against fascism in Greece will continue for a long time yet.

Comments

Entdinglichung
Oct 10 2013 09:14

from http://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?article29996 ... the author belongs to the OKDE-Spartakos (orthodox left wing of the USFI)

Quote:
While many European politicians and business leaders followed with interest the use of this armed gang to try to rein in the anti-Troika and therefore anti-capitalist protests, part of the European bourgeoisie considered as unwelcome and even dangerous the growth of a para-state group which might later on make the traditional bourgeois parties regret having played with fire. The fact that Greece is due to take on the next presidency of the EU has apparently led to some pressure on the Samaras government in this regard.

The same contradictions exist among the Greek employers. Although it has been proved that the “hordes of horror” have been financed by industry and shipowners, and in some cases for a long time, the statement of the leader of the Greek employers after the murder of Fyssas sounded like an order to the government: to put Golden Dawn and SYRIZA on the same level is not only unacceptable but anti-democratic. Apart from the fact that there several months ago there was a meeting a meeting between it and Alexis Tsipras, leader of SYRIZA , it seems that the leadership of the Greek employers refuses at this stage the development of a real mafia acting for itself and only partly for big business.

So on Saturday we had the pleasure - but also the anger, because it happened after so many well-known crimes – of seeing the Nazi leaders and several cadres of their party arrive at police headquarters, handcuffed and escorted by the anti-terrorist units. At the same time, let us not dream: one of the leaders, a psychopathic thug, was able to use his mobile phone while in custody to send instructions to his henchmen. Nevertheless, the charges on the basis of which the court has ordered the arrests are much more serious than just a publicity stunt by the Greek government to reassure its European colleagues.

For three days , Greece has been discovering that this gang of killers is a veritable mafia (protection racket centred on shops, arms trafficking , exploitation of immigrants in various forms of commerce ...), and a real little terrorist organization: the anti-terrorist units are at present looking for the arms caches that this criminal network had begun to organize in the country. And we can see another possible reason for the scale of the operation against the Nazis: the forces of repression had begun to be so infected by Nazi sympathies, with discreet training in military camps, that the government feared it might eventually lose control over the state apparatus!

Without overestimating the real strength of this band of assassins - and of course the fact that the mainstream media has suddenly shifted from giving free publicity to Golden Dawn to adopting an almost anti-Nazi position that makes them dramatize the situation excessively - it is obvious that a dynamic was underway, with the complicity of many police officers, that encouraged all the advocates of violence against workers and immigrants to believe that they had a free hand to do as they liked.

The question that could be posed, three days after the arrest of the leaders of Golden Dawn, is whether the government and the judiciary are determined to go all the way, and whether the killers who have been arrested will be given serious prison sentences. Knowing who Samaras is, with his far-right past, we may doubt it. The other question is whether Golden Dawn has received a mortal blow in terms of its organization. In the last two days, it was good to see that only 150 to 200 morons had responded to the call of the Nazi leadership to mobilize everywhere. The probability of the party being characterized as a criminal group opens the door to a possible ban on it, but for the moment its members of parliament are holding on to their positions and now want to provoke a political crisis ... on the pretext of their so-called fight against the Troika.

Chilli Sauce
Oct 10 2013 21:55

Re: Syriza.

FWIW, I think that while, of course, there is no real chance for a truly liberatory revolutionary movement to develop from Syriza, the US still wants to keep in power government which are going to be as amenable to US interests as possible.

And, despite the fact that capital would still exist under a Syriza government, that doesn't mean that US policy planners don't have an irrational fear of a "leftist" government coming to power within an austerity-wracked country.

The other thing to be said is that large sections of the bourgeoisie often mistake the self-proclaimed representative institutions of the working class for actual grassroots resistance. I mean, despite the obvious mediating capabilities of trade unions, most employers still fight tooth-and-nail to keep them out. The belief is that the mere presence of unions will enable effective resistance. I think something similar could going on with Syriza.

backspace
Oct 11 2013 14:24

To respond and expand upon Chilli Sauce's points, I don't think the leftist leaderships (the activists and cadres maybe) involved in Syriza believe it poses an immediate revolutionary threat, but that it might enable Greece to exit the eurozone, thereby threatening the fragility of the present holding actions preventing further international crisis. From there it could prove a domino effect if similarly inspired electoral platforms arise to power in the countries that really matter to the global economy - Spain, Italy etc. I'm relatively sure this is the leftist strategy.

The problem it seems to me, is this - the economic policy Syriza represents - ie. real 'keynesian' policy (with the political backing to enact the more 'left' aspects, and not just the superficial inverted 'keynesianism' we've seen placed into practice so far) - is still being championed by some as a potential capitalist solution to the crisis. We like to read various marxian arguments about why this would fail, but the reality is that it can't entirely be predicted; it might in fact prove successful at patching up this ongoing crisis of capital.

As a result, the danger (in the context of communist strategy) is that any 'grassroots left party' such as Syriza, would be taking power partly with a mandate to administer stability, and hence would see the deployment of such policy; fail to do so and they will see themselves voted out or removed from power. Whilst they may provide a path toward rebuilding workers consciousness and class organisation, their ability to deepen the crisis whilst doing so would be extremely short limited. It may cause further short term crisis, but it could equally present capital with a path to recovery.

The question as always, is to square the pursuit of large scale growth in workers consciousness and organisational power with the task of deepening the existing contradictions - it is a sad combination of utopianism and opportunism that believes solving a crisis for capital to be a legitimate path for the development of class power.

I completely agree that a rival proposed solution to the crisis is enough to provoke an intense response from state organisations, particularly the US.

jef costello
Oct 13 2013 09:34

Golden Dawn are now becoming more dangerous and less useful to the ruling classes so they have been stepped on.
This crackdown doesn't make the immigrant safer Josef, this crackdown is an aim to decapitate GD (at best) so that it will return to its place. Just because they are not wanted in a coalition does not mean the government doesn't want them helping police to attack demonstrators. If they turned a blind eye to the massive involvement in crime why would they care now. This crackdown is very partial and targeted and is largely based on information that is old, some of these cases have been pending for several years. I am not sure how the legal system works but it seems that the authorities have been holding these prosecutions back to use as leverage against Golden Dawn or to provide scapegoats if needed.
We oppose fascism, not individual fascists (in a political sense) so a move that will target some fascists while leaving the situation and organisation largely intact is not helpful.
The idea of a murderous Golden Dawn leader in prison doesn't upset me in the slightest, but I don't see it as a victory because it is linked to their power struggles. In the same way as I may be opposed to the CEO of my employer but if he is ousted by the board of directors I don't expect any improvement to my conditions.
If we want to take the analogy to Germany, we could look at the various attempts (as mentioned above) to control the nazi street organisations, culminating in the night of the long knives. I don't care if they executed Ernst Rohm as part of an internal struggle, althouth it might have brought me some personal satisfaction it wasn't the result of class struggle or power.

Entdinglichung
Oct 15 2013 11:54

from http://www.workersliberty.org/story/2013/10/11/greek-anti-fascist-movement-grows

Quote:
The left (mainly SYRIZA) should realise that the defeat of fascism will not be done by delegation from the bourgeois state. The election results in Nikaia and Redi were indicative: SYRIZA 25.09%, KKE 14.39%, Independent Greeks 11.4%, Golden Dawn 9.02%, ND 9.01%, PASOK 7.99%, DHMAR 5.83%, Greens 3.38%, ANTARSYA 1.21%. Results were similar in Keratsini and Perama. So the question is how in the area where the left polled over 40% and Golden Dawn under 10%, the streets were won by Golden Dawn.
ocelot
Oct 16 2013 16:31

Because votes ain't worth shit in a street fight. Particularly when the other side have the support of the cops. AWL are idiots.

Entdinglichung
Oct 17 2013 08:53

I think, the question was a rhetorical one and the author of the text knows the answer

some more from Enet ... not really surprising stuff:

Quote:
Three lawyers present information that they say points to 'long-term penetration of and activities of the Nazi criminal gang' of Golden Dawn within the secret services and the police

Enough indications exist of a close relationship between Golden Dawn and elements in the state apparatus, specifically the secret service and police, to warrant an investigation, three lawyers involved in serious criminal cases against Golden Dawn have claimed.

In a statement, the lawyers – Takis Zotos, Thanasis Kampayiannis and Evgenia Kouniaki – call on the authorities to fully investigate the allegations of links between the neonazi party and the National Intelligence Service (EYP) and the police.

Zotos and Kampayiannis are involved in the case of Shehzad Luqman, the 27-year-old Pakistani migrant worker fatally stabbed in January. Two Golden Dawn supporters have been charged with his murder.

Kouniaki is involved in the trial of three Golden Dawn members accused of stabbing an Afghan man in September 2011. One of the accused is Themis Skordeli, Golden Dawn's leading official in a central Athens district. Her trial has been postponed eight times, on the strengh of psychological reports provided by a fellow Golden Dawn member who is employed as a psychiatrist in a state hospital.

In a statement, the three lawyers raise the following points:

1. The director of EYP's third counter-intelligence division, Dimos Kouzilos, who was responsible for telephone surveillance of Golden Dawn, was forced to resign on 27 September over, what the media claimed, links to that party. The lawyers say that neither EYP nor the public order ministry have issued a statement clarifying why Kouzilos had to go. The also point out that on the morning he was dismissed, he chaired a meeting on the state's moves against the party.

2. According to press reports, Dimos Kouzilos is a relative of Nikos Kouzilos, Golden Dawn's MP for the central Piraeus constituency and the party's spokesman for shipping issues. Golden Dawn, on its website, claims that Kouzilos was sacked from his position after disagreeing with the public order ministry's decision to "monitor a legitimate political party".

3. Kouzilos' appointment in 2012 even caused reactions from government coalition partners Pasok and Democratic Left (Dimar) and main opposition party Syriza. In a parliamentary question tabled in December 2012, Syriza and Dimar MPs questioned whether recent EYP appointments, including Kouzilos', had been carried out on the basis of meritocracy. Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias responded by saying that "the appointment of Greek police officers to EYP was made ​​after they were selected by EYP's director general".

4. EYP's director general was then and remains Theodoros Dravillas, a confidante of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, former general secretary of the culture ministry under Samaras, and former deputy director of his New Democracy party. Dravillas was appointed head of EYP in July 2012, following the installation of the new government. The lawyers also note that the two deputy director generalships were given to Samaras associates: Panayiotis Kontoulis, a lawyer, and Yiorgos Kamarinopoulos, former chairman of the Attica Police Officers Association and the Panhellenic Federation of Police Officers. Both are from Samaras' native prefecture and constituency of Mesinia. The lawyers say the appointments were viewed as favoritism in the media.

5. Kouzilos had previously served in the Attica drugs squad, the antiquities division and, most recently, was director of the new financial police. He was then seconded to EYP, to take up a position once held by Yannis Dikopoulos, who once served with him in the Attica drugs squad. As a lieutenant general, Dikopoulos was forced to resign as inspector general of police for southern Greece on September 23, following the "negligent investigation" of the Golden Dawn offices in Halkida, Evia.

6. In the summer of 2005, Kouzilou (in a subordinate position) and Dikopoulou (as head) were both serving in EYP's third counter-intelligence division when EYP was accused of organising the kidnapping of 20 Pakistani immigrants living in Greece at the request of the British intelligence services on suspicion of involvement in the July 2005 terrorist attacks on the London underground. Among those abducted was the chairman of the Pakistani community in Greece, Javed Aslam.

7. According to some sources, Kouzilos maintained contacts with officers in Piraeus who are now under investigation for having links with Golden Dawn. These press reports claim that the head of Nikea police station, Dimitris Giovandis, tipped Golden Dawn off about police work and himself participated in criminal activity. The lawyers point out that the Golden Dawn official accused of directing the party's illegal activity in Piraeus is MP Yiannis Lagos. As far back as 2011, EYP secret reports claimed Lagos was involved in protection rackets, extortion, trafficking and prostitution, but no action was ever taken.

The lawyers said: "We believe that this information provides an overview of the long-term penetration of and activities of the Nazi criminal gang within the EYP and the police."

They say that even though the Supreme Court prosecutor investigating Golden Dawn. Haralambos Vourliotis, obtained much of his information from EYP, mainly from EYP's third counter-intelligence division, they have "good reason to believe" that the agency may have more information but that this could have been concealed by Golden Dawn "collaborators and informers" within the state apparatus.

They call for full and independent access to be provided to EYP's archives in order to fully investigate Golden Dawn's crimes.

ocelot
Oct 18 2013 10:56

Interesting article from Macropolis - Golden Dawn draws support from surprising sources to retain popularity

Quote:
Although there is no surprise in the poll’s findings that three quarters of the group’s supporters are men, there are a number of other discoveries that will cause eyebrows to be raised.

For instance, the survey indicates that the party's core support is not young unemployed Greeks. In fact, the jobless make up just 17 percent of followers. In contrast, salaried private sector employees account for 24 percent, freelancers 23 percent and pensioners 16 percent.

Backing among young Greeks (under 25) is also weaker than expected, reaching 14.1 percent of overall support. The strongest support for the party is among those aged 25 to 40, which accounts for 43.8 percent of its backers at the moment. In contrast, and perhaps also a little unexpectedly, Golden Dawn's support is relatively low among older Greeks, who are traditionally more conservative and right-wing in their views. The extremist party pulls in just over 15 percent of its backing from those aged over 56.

The GPO survey also hints at the difficulties other parliamentary parties face in trying to counter Golden Dawn’s attraction on ideological grounds. Polls have consistently shown that the main reason Greeks back the neofascist party is as a protest against the political system and Greece’s economic plight. The GPO survey indicates that a minority of the party’s supporters see themselves as being aligned ideologically with Golden Dawn’s beliefs. Four in 10 of those who say they support the extremist party classify themselves as centrists, while less than a third position themselves on the far right of the political spectrum.

This suggests that marginalising Golden Dawn as an extremist party but not addressing the underlying problems that have fuelled its rise will have only a limited impact on its popularity, as is evident from its opinion poll ratings so far.

Also, more Father Ted-style Nazi shrine silliness, via Enet. (What kind of a name is Edward Pringle-Stacey, I ask you, dodgy fucker...)

Tian
Nov 1 2013 22:38

Two Golden Dawn members assassinated today:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-24780379