Provocateurs or protesters? Large crowd disperses as police employ tear gas at Macedonia rally

21 January 2019
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A suffocating smell of smoke has covered the centre of Athens and the streets surrounding Syntagma Square, after police employed tear gas against a small group of face-covered protesters who attempted to break the security line of a SWAT team on the main steps of the Greek parliament building.

The clashes rapidly got out of hand and spread, with some eyewitnesses saying police forces suddenly started firing tear gas into the rest of the crowd that was peaceful. The initial skirmishes resulted in the majority of the large crowd, which had gathered outside the Greek parliament to protest against the government’s plan to ratify a deal that would practically concede the term “Macedonia” to FYROM, dispersing.

Meanwhile, during the rally at Syntagma Square, a man was stabbed multiple times on Solonos Street after being assaulted by strangers who also burned his bike.
According to medical sources from the emergency ambulance services, the 35-year-old man was stabbed in his thigh and was rushed to the “Red Cross” hospital. So far, it has not been determined whether the man participated in the large rally at Syntagma.

After the escalation of the use of tear gas by police, many people, including children and elderly fainted and were rushed into the Hotel Grand Bretagne for first aid.

The police were quick to blame the riots and assaults on extreme right elements, claiming the rioters could not have been Antifa groups, extreme leftist groups or anarchists as they had been contained by security forces from approaching the main square.

It should be reminded that the ruling leftist SYRIZA party has in the past been accused of either condoning or turning a blind eye to violent actions coming from extreme leftist groups.

Protothema.gr reporter, Christos Chatzispyrou who was on the scene said many protesters, mainly older people and children faced breathing problems and were moved away.

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