Continued tension in Greece with strikes, riots and urban guerrillas

autonomous unions and feminists in solidarity protest march to K. Kouneva

A second tense week of strikes and protest marches in Greece seeing hospital doctors, public transport and lorry drivers on strike, solidarity demonstrations with K. Kouneva erupt in riots, and a return of the spectre of urban guerrilla warfare.

As K. Kouneva is slowly recovering from the assassination attempt against her with sulphuric acid in December by corporate thugs, solidarity towards her and the cleaners subcontracted by OIKOMET and other companies to the civil service and state-owned enterprises is on the rise.

Protest marches took to the streets of major Greek cities on Thursday 19/2. In Salonica protesters marched in bitter cold and pelted riot police (MAT) with garbage. Later the same night, riots broke out when a large masked crowd gathered to celebrate the beginning of the Carnival erected barricades and attacked using rocks and other projectiles the riot police, who responded with extended use of tear gas and flash-blast grenades.

In Athens, thousands protested in solidarity with the cleaners in a march to the Parliament. During the protest several banks were smashed and burned down leading to extended clashes with police behind erected barricades. Earlier this week protesters in solidarity with Kouneva attacked and smashed the offices of OIKOMET in Piraeus.

At the same time hospital doctors started a second round of 48h strike on Thursday 19/2 demanding to serve only their legal shifts. The same day bus and trolley drivers in Athens staged a 09.00-17.00 stoppage, a particularly disruptive labour action for the particular day which signals the beginning of the Carnival. In addition, on 19/2 the cross-country lorry drivers have declared an unlimited strike blocking all custom control at the country’s harbours and land borders.

The tense situation across the country has been underlined by the continuation of armed violence by Marxist-Leninist urban guerrilla groups: on Monday guerrillas opened fire against cars of producers of the Alter TV channel in the TV station’s HQs (no one was wounded), while early on Tuesday a car packed with 60Kg of ANFO was found outside Citybanks HQs in Kifisia, north Athens. The car-bomb which was deactivated by the police would have blown up the entire block.

Public opinion on the new circle of urban guerrilla that opened last December remains mixed, especially since a convicted member of the November 17 urban guerrilla group, Mr Tzorzatos, declared the attacks look like the work of the Greek Intelligence Service (EYP) which has likely infiltrated inexperienced armed Marxist-Leninist groups. Tzortzatos, a controversial figure, gave extended technical details to substantiate his argument.

Meanwhile, the park of Kyprou and Patision in downtown Athens, over which riots broke out at the end of January leading to the smashing of two police stations, is still under occupation by local protesters.

At the same time, in Alimos, south Athens, the occupation of the paper producing “Faros” factory by its workers is in its second week, with widespread support.

Posted By

Feb 20 2009 10:45


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futility index
Feb 21 2009 11:09
Mr Tzorzatos, declared the attacks look like the work of the Greek Intelligence Service (EYP) which has likely infiltrated inexperienced armed Marxist-Leninist groups. Tzortzatos, a controversial figure, gave extended technical details to substantiate his argument.

Is this in english anywhere? Cheers

Feb 21 2009 12:03

Not that I know of.
It was originally published in the daily Eleftherotypia

Kaze no Kae
Feb 21 2009 18:45

"would have blown up the entire block"
Typical. Of pigs and Leninists. >.<

Feb 22 2009 12:36

...I just wanted to say that we need to expand such actions to the international scale as an international strike against the capitalist class....We shouldn't allow our class enemy to repeat what they did against the 1991's Shora insurrection in Irak...Look for example what the forces to the left of capital are doing in Venezuela....and other countries...let's take direct actions to stop mass unemployment....

Feb 22 2009 13:05
early on Tuesday a car packed with 60Kg of ANFO was found outside Citybanks HQs in Kifisia, north Athens. The car-bomb which was deactivated by the police would have blown up the entire block.

60kg of explosive could do a lot of damage, but this must be an exaggeration? From news reports I would guess it takes at least a ton to do that kind of damage. This used nearly 3 tons for example.

Feb 23 2009 10:26

The number of kilos of the AMFO as well as their capacity are constantly changing in official references, and as there is no independent source of information apart from what the antiterrorist squad tells the press, real estimates of the bomb attempt are hard to make.

Feb 24 2009 16:59

I was living in Athens in June 2000 when N17 assassinated British military attache Stephen Saunders (I was on a bus on the same road about an hour later and sat in traffic for another hour because of the huge traffic jam the police investigation caused). When N17 issued a communique about the killing it had references to the writings of people like Eric Hobsbawm, causing all my Greek comrades to say that it sounded more like the writings of a grad student or professor than the work of so-called revolutionaries. Many of them were convinced that N17 had to have some connections to the state, possibly even to the Greek intelligence service. This is understandable when you see how long N17 was able to act and how quickly they were "caught" while the Greek state was under international pressure to crack down on them in the build up to the Olympics.

So armed urban guerrillas, especially at a time that isn't a revolutionary situation, have all the trappings of being the work of some state agency. And given his experience, perhaps Tzorzatos should know.

Feb 25 2009 01:38

Two different ways of writing his name, btw: Tzorzatos and Tzortzatos. The last one gives more results on google so it seems to be the more coherent transcription. First name: Vassilis. Electrician, arrested and accused of membership of the notorious urban guerrilla organisation N17, apparently heavily tortured to make him confess, condemned to serve something like four times life, imprisoned under inhuman conditions for anti-terrorist security reasons (there's talk about 'the Greek Guantanamo'), went on a hungerstrike some years ago.
And then you can dive into this whole shady history of N17.
Greece appears to have a long history of state manipulated leftist guerrilla groups, which only temporarily was ended because of the Olympics. I remember the days when Greek insurrectionists seemed to refuse to believe those groups were telematic, but that is quite some years ago.

Feb 25 2009 13:12

It is highly irresponsible to engage in blanket "agentology" regarding armed groups that appeared in Greece after the collapse of the junta, and certainly Tzortzatos never takes this step usually endorsed by the KKE and other Stalinist formations. During the junta there were several armed resistance groups with numbers of their members arrested and tortured by the EAT-ESA torture machine. Convicted members of such urban guerrilla groups included Costas Simitis, Greece's PM from 1996-2004. It is common knowledge that after the collapse of the junta, these groups enlarged their membership and engaged in a defensive struggle against the so-called "junta droplets". As the high court had judged that the dictatorship had been an "instant crime" and not a continuous one, only the colonels taking part in the April 21 coup of 1967 were tried and convicted, leaving all other junta officers in their positions in the civil services and the army. The armed groups aimed to annihilate key figures of this apparatus lurking in the heart of the newly found Republic, and to hamper their capacity to launch attacks like the attempted so-called pajama coup of March 1975. Immediately after the first attacks against such targets, the now legal Communist Party (KKE) accused these groups as agents provocateurs, usually meaning violent militants without the Party's control...As the action of these armed groups continued into the 1980s, the defeated right launched a propaganda war spearheaded by its most reactionary elements like the fascist MP Panos Kamenos, claiming the urban guerrillas were PASOK-government agents. This so-called agentology has been sustained by the KKE but dropped by other political parties since the arrest of the 17N.
Tzortzatos interview does not engage in such vague smear. It points out that in the 1980s smaller armed formations had been infiltrated by the EYP as the case of Ntanos Krystallis makes clear. Krystallis was gen.secretary of a left wing group and also engaged in underground armed action, providing its comrades with guns. When in an attempted bombing he was arrested, it was found out he was an EYP agent and a huge scandal ensued. This according to Tzortzatos proves that agents can and do infiltrate leftist groups even climbing to top of their public hierarchy. Regarding the latest cases Tzortzatos builds his argument on technical details on gun use and transport, exposing contradictions that in his opinion point out to EYP infiltration. Nevertheless Tzotzatos remains a controvertial figure, accused by Koufodinas and other 17N prisoners of cooperating with the police and the antiterrorist service.

Feb 26 2009 11:50

The comment above is interesting but I don't get what is so irresponsible...
Why would it be impossible that secret services could infiltrate and manipulate larger guerrilla groups? Can't it be that stalinists and even right wingers tell the truth for a brief moment, when it fits in their political agenda? Why would such larger guerrilla groups during the 1970s and 1980s have been authentic and the current new groupings suddenly be manipulated?
When the PSOE came into power in post-Franco Spain, it was very well capable of organizing death squads (GAL), so why wouldn't PASOK have been able to engage in such dark mechanisms? I don't agree with Basque nationalists, but I do believe that GAL was organized by the PSOE... Just like Italian secret services took over the command of the Red Brigades during the 1970's.
People can put such analysis aside as 'agentology', but by having a clearer look on this they could maybe have foreseen what's happening now.

Feb 26 2009 13:39

Such arguments are irresponsible because they obscure the fact that it is primarily legal i.e. non-armed groups and movements which are infiltrated and manipulated by the state. See for example the Northern Irish Women for Peace Movement, a fabrication of Frank Kitson, whose participants had no doubt about their independence from any state influence, or even the KKE who had had a few agents in its history right into its Central Committee. So what's the point of all this agentology but to smear any effort of subversion, insurection and revolution as a state-conspiracy? As Lenin said, we already always know we have been infiltrated, the point is to render this irrelevant to the outcome of our struggle.