Greek police yesterday arrested the leader of the Golden Dawn neo-Nazi party and hunted for dozens of its members as part of a crackdown launched after the murder of a leftist musician.
Golden Dawn leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos was arrested early yesterday, along with party spokesman and Greek Member of Parliament (MP) Ilias Kassidiairis, and two other group members, on charges of belonging to a “criminal organization,” a police source said on condition of anonymity.
Arrest warrants were also issued for at least five other Golden Dawn MPs and dozens of members, the source said.
The arrests came a day after Golden Dawn threatened to pull its 18 lawmakers out of parliament in the recession-hit country, where the government is struggling to implement painful public sector reforms in return for international bailout funds.
Golden Dawn, which had MPs elected to parliament for the first time last year on the back of widespread anger over austerity measures, is facing a crackdown after the fatal stabbing of a popular hip-hop musician on Sept. 18.
The death of anti-fascist Pavlos Fyssas, 34, allegedly by a self-confessed neo-Nazi, sparked nationwide protests and led the government to launch a crackdown on the group whose members are suspected of attacking immigrants and political rivals.
“This government is determined not to allow the descendants of the Nazis to poison our social life, to commit crimes, terrorize and undermine the foundations of the country that gave birth to democracy,” Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said in a televised address a day after the killing.
Faced with the crackdown, which included wiretaps of party members, Michaloliakos on Friday threatened to pull the group’s deputies out of parliament, a move that would trigger by-elections in 15 regions around the country.
“We will exhaust any means within our legal constitutional rights to defend our political honor,” Michaloliakos told reporters late on Thursday.
“Everything is open. If the country enters a cycle of instability, it is those who demonize Golden Dawn who will be responsible, not [us],” he said.
By-elections could hurt Samaras’ coalition government, which has a slim majority of 155 MPs in the 300-seat parliament, and cast into doubt Greece’s ability to fulfill its obligations to creditors on multibillion-euro bailouts.
Samaras’ conservative party is neck-and-neck in the polls with the radical leftist Syriza party that opposes Greece’s EU-IMF austerity bailout, and a strong showing by Syriza in by-elections could lead to the government’s fall.
Golden Dawn saw its popularity increase as Greece became further mired in recession and unemployment figures hit record highs.
The party has sent black-clad squads to smash up market stalls owned by immigrants, held torch-lit rallies lambasting political opponents as “traitors” and “thieves” and organized donations of food exclusively for ethnic Greeks.
It has also been blamed for a series of brutal attacks on migrants and political opponents, although the neo-Nazi group strenuously denies any responsibility and says it is the victim of slander.
This year, the party has consistently polled at more than 10 percent, with its approval ratings even higher in the 18-44 age group, making them the country’s third-strongest political force.
However, the hip-hop artist’s murder has hurt Golden Dawn’s reputation among voters, with the party polling at about 7 percent last week.
Analysts warn that the party’s popularity will make any efforts to outlaw it difficult and politically dangerous.
“The constitution makes no provision for the dissolution of a parliamentary group, even if there is proof that it is a criminal organization,” Panteion University associate professor of law Dimitris Christopoulos told reporters this week.
An Australian university student who has never visited China and has only a modest social media following would seem an unlikely target for the Chinese government. However, when a Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman personally denounced Drew Pavlou at a news conference, it was just the next phase in an extraordinary campaign against the 21-year-old that has fueled concerns over China’s targeting of critics overseas. Pavlou first placed himself in the superpower’s sights when in July last year he organized a small sit-in at the University of Queensland, where he studies, to protest against various Chinese government policies. Since then, the Global
‘ASKED TO MOVE OUT’: Indonesian coast guard personnel argued with a Chinese vessel over territorial claims after it entered the country’s exclusive economic zone An Indonesian patrol ship confronted a Chinese coast guard vessel that spent almost three days in waters where Indonesia claims economic rights and that are near the southernmost part of China’s disputed claims to the South China Sea. The Indonesian Maritime Security Agency on Friday night detected Chinese ship 5204 entering Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in what Indonesia calls the North Natuna Sea. The agency sent a patrol ship that closed within 1km of the Chinese coast guard vessel and they communicated to affirm their position and their nation’s claims to the area, Indonesian Maritime Security Agency head Aan Kurnia said. “We
BEFORE WINTER COMES: Snow cuts off roads into Ladakh for four months or more each year, so the crunch is on to get food, tents and high-altitude equipment to Leh From deploying mules to large transport aircraft, the Indian military has activated its entire logistics network to transport supplies to thousands of troops for a harsh winter along a bitterly disputed Himalayan border with China. In the past few months, one of India’s biggest military logistics exercises in years has brought vast quantities of ammunition, equipment, fuel, winter supplies and food into Ladakh, a region bordering Tibet that India administers as a union territory, officials said. The move was triggered by a border standoff with China in the snow deserts of Ladakh that began in May and escalated in June into hand-to-hand
Dark matter, mysterious invisible stuff that makes up most of the mass of galaxies, including the Milky Way, is confounding scientists again, with new observations of distant galaxies conflicting with the current understanding of its nature. Research published this week revealed an unexpected discrepancy between observations of dark matter concentrations in three massive clusters of galaxies encompassing trillions of stars and theoretical computer simulations of how dark matter should be distributed. “Either there is a missing ingredient in the simulations or we have made a fundamental incorrect assumption about the nature of dark matter,” Yale University astrophysicist Priyamvada Natarajan, a coauthor of