The events that marked Greece in the last few days raise the question whether neo-Nazis are making a comeback in the country.
On Thursday Greeks celebrated the one-year anniversary of the conviction and imprisonment of the neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn parliamentary group and memebers.
The court convicted a total of 68 members of the neo-Nazi group, including seven of the parliamentary group, as a criminal organization “dressed in the mantle of a political party.”
Crowds rejoiced outside the Athens Court as they heard the announcement of the Golden Dawn conviction last year.
A series of violent events marked the last few days, though, as far-right extremist groups along with Golden Dawn supporters turned the area around a Thessaloniki high school into a bloody battleground for several days.
Hooded high-school students and others suspected of belonging to the far-right groups, attacked groups of anti-fascists who went to the Stavroupolis school in Thessaloniki to protest the violence.
The repeated phenomenon in Thessaloniki that also has far-right soccer hooligans fighting against leftist hooligans has raised great concern.
Violence erupted in the Neo Heraklion suburb of Athens as well when far-right extremists attacked a group of anti-fascist student protesters.
Supreme court prosecutor to take action against neo-Nazi comeback
Greece’s Supreme Court prosecutor, Vassilis Pliotas, has made moves to investigate and shut down the violent acts of right-wing extremists.
The prosecutor sent directions to the Athens and Thessaloniki prosecutorial services to investigate the phenomenon and track down suspicious neo-Nazi groups.
There are concerns that far-right extremists may be working on forming a neo-Nazi coalition under guidance from jailed Golden Dawn members.
Early in the week police arrested a 30-year-old man brandishing a swastika tattoo and a knife who was recognized by bystanders for beating four leftist students in Neo Heraklion.
The man claimed he was acting in self-defense and that even though he was a Golden Dawn member, he has left his Nazi past behind and has covered the swastika tattoo.
The man was given a 36-month suspended sentence for grave bodily harm and weapons possession, but was not jailed. The light sentence has infuriated citizens who fear of a neo-Nazi comeback.
Former Golden Dawn member delivers hate speeches from jail
Jailed former Golden Dawn member Ilias Kasidiaris has now formed a new party, called Gia Tin Patrida (For The Homeland).
Kasidiaris is serving a sentence of 13 years and six months at Domokos Prison. All Golden Dawn leading members have received the same sentence.
However, this has not stopped the ultra-rightist convict from preaching to the converted from behind bars. Some of his comments can be considered hate speech.
On September 11, Kasidiaris addressed a gathering of like-minded people in Thessaloniki, making a speech over the telephone.
On Wednesday, Anti-Crime Policy Secretary General, Sofia Nikolaou, sent a letter to the Domokos Prison administration asking them to examine inmate Kasidiaris’ phone calls.
In the letter, Nikolaou asks whether he can use prison phones to make political statements for a neo-Nazi comeback and can even lead to incitement to hatred.
In May, Nikolaou had sent a letter to the Lamia prosecutor, asking for his opinion on whether Kasidiaris’ political statements over the phone constituted a crime.
Nikolaou suggests that the prison council take measures to prevent communication between Kasidiaris and the outside, especially when it comes to political speeches.
New Democracy ousts MP for extreme far-right views
Governing party New Democracy threw Konstantinos Bogdanos out of the parliamentary group this week for his intense anti-communist rhetoric in the parliament.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis issued the ouster after Bogdanos intervened during a debate over Greece’s defense pact with France, attacking the Greek Communist Party (KKE) and making references to the Greek Civil War.
Previous to the expulsion from ND, Bogdanos had participated in a celebration over a battle won by the government forces during the Greek Civil War in Grammos.
The celebration in Grammos was attended by far-right groups, including Golden Dawn, and two other New Democracy members.
The Opposition accused the governing party for the PM’s attendance at the Grammos event as such events are considered to be “celebrations of hatred” that divide Greeks.
Right wing ministers in New Democracy
The Opposition also criticizes the government for having in its ranks three ministers from now disbanded right wing party People’s Orthodox Alert (LAOS) that served in the Greek Parliament from 2009 until 2012.
Since then, three LAOS party members have joined the New Democracy ranks and now serve in the cabinet.
Namely, Adonis Georgiadis is Development and Investments Minister, Thanasis Plevris is Health Minister, and Makis Voridis is Minister of the Interior.
The Opposition considers that the three ND ministers belong to the extreme right and should not hold such high positions in the government.
There is speculation in the leftist press that there is the likelihood that the above mentioned ND politicians and a couple of others might leave the party and form a new one, further to the right.
Yet, so far, Georgiadis, Plevris and Voridis have not made any such statements, nor do they look like they are following an ideological path that veers further right than the conservative New Democracy party, much less so they exhibit any neo-Nazi comeback tendencies as the Left accuses them of having.