Athens sees still more violent clashes
Yesterday protest marches were held in Athens in solidarity with those arrested by police during the series of clashes which spread across Greece in December following the shooting by police of a 15 year old teenager in the capital's Exarchia district.
Protests turned violent as some demonstrators clashed with riot police near the Propylia area of downtown Athens. However, eyewitness accounts published in Greek language blogs say that the police used excessive force, throwing stun grenades into the crowds and indiscriminately beating marchers. Attacks were also reported upon riot police in Thessaloniki, Greece's second city last night in which Molotov cocktails were thrown at police vans.
Despite hopes that last year's violent confrontations have died down, the marches demonstrate that popular anger has yet to be extinguished. On Thursday (see here for video) about 1000 people marched in protest against the attack on Labour activist, Konstandina Kouneva, the victim of an acid attack in December. The 44 year - old Bulgarian trade unionist is still in intensive care after having acid thrown in her face and being forced to drink the liquid.
Lawyers representing her say the attack was prompted by her work in exposing an alleged scam by cleaning companies with contracts with the state run organisations which meant that the mainly foreign born work force received slave wages.
The duration of the confrontations has seen the rapid development of a mini "arms race" on Greek streets with the appearance of more and more protesters wearing gas masks in order to counter-act the authorities extensive use of tear gas. According to the BBC the government has responded by ordering water cannons which will be ready for action within the next two weeks.
The ruling New Democracy party also faces protests by farmers who have used tractors to block road junctions across the country in demonstration over low prices and lack of government support for the nation's agricultural sector. Attempts to placate farmers with a 500 million euro aid package have still not seen an end to the roadblocks.