This week on #rbnews international, we continued our series of fascism and anti-fascism in Greece with an interview with Dimitris Psarras. Dimitris is a journalist with the investigative team Ios, whose reports are currently published by the Editors’ Newspaper. He published in October 2012 a book titled The Black Book of Golden Dawn (Polis), a comprehensive summary of the years of research he conducted into the history and activities of Greece’s neo-Nazi party. He is also the author of The secret hand of Karatzaferis: the media rebirth of the Greek far-right (Alexandria, 2010).
You can listen to the podcast, as usual, after the jump. We added some explanatory notes for those who are not familiar with details of Greece’s political scene.
Konstantinos (Kostas) Plevris, born 1939 (mentioned at 00:17:00) is a far-right Greek author and the main theoretician of neo-Nazism in Greece. He is the author of the anti-Semitic book “Jews: the whole truth” (mentioned at 00:54:34), for which he was indicted under the Anti-Racist Law of 1979 and found guilty in 2007. His 14-month suspended prison sentence was overturned on appeal in 2009. Plevris then filed a counter-lawsuit against the Ios team, including Dimitris Psarras, for libel; the trial date has not yet been set. He is also the founder of the 4th of August Party (mentioned at 00:22:12), named after the anniversary of the coup by Ioannis Metaxas in 1936 (see below).
The Popular Orthodox Rally, better known by its Greek acronym LAOS (mentioned at 00:18:50) is a radical populist far-right party founded in 2000 by journalist and then-New Democracy MP Giorgos Karatzaferis, who was subsequently expelled from New Democracy. LAOS failed to reach the required 3% threshold to enter parliament in the 2004 general election but gained a set in the European Parliament a few months later and entered the Greek parliament in 2007 and 2009. Its participation in the Papademos government from November 2011 to February 2012 led to its electoral collapse in the 2012 general election. Several LAOS officials defected to New Democracy after LAOS withdrew its support to Papademos in February 2012, and even more joined New Democracy between the two general elections held in May and June 2012.
The Metaxas regime or 4th of August Regime was an authoritarian regime under dictator Ioannis Metaxas from 1936 to 1941, whose ideology provided, under a slightly different form, the basis for the governance of Greece after World War II and the Greek Civil War (1946-1949) until the early 1960s, as well as for the Junta or Regime of the Colonels which ruled Greece from 1967 to 1973 (mentioned at 00:19:58).
The National Political Union, better known by its Greek acronym EPEN (mentioned at 00:27:39) was a far-right party founded by imprisoned dictator Giorgos Papadopoulos in 1984. Its youth wing was led successively by Golden Dawn’s Nikos Michaloliakos and later Makis Voridis (see below). The party gained 1 seat in the European parliament in 1984 and was dissolved in 1996.
Failos Kranidiotis (mentioned at 00:36:15) is a Greek lawyer and informal advisor to Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, and the chairman of the board of “Network 21” (21 referring here to the Greek Revolution of 1821), a nationalist group founded in the mid-1990s to promote the “national awakening of Greeks” in order to “turn passive subjects of the State into free individuals, following the finest traditions of Hellenism and the spiritual paradigm of Orthodoxy.” He is also the lawyer of Abdullah Öcalan in Greece and was at his side during the Kurdish leader’s arrest in Nairobi in 1999.
Political Spring (mentioned at 00:36:32) was a nationalist party founded by Antonis Samaras in 1993. Samaras was at the time the Minister of Foreign Affairs for New Democracy and broke away from the party after being dismissed due to his hardline stance on the issue of the name of FYROM. Samaras’s defection led to the fall of the Mitsotakis government and the general election of 1993, in which Political Spring entered parliament. It failed however to enter parliament in the 1996 and 2000 elections, with Samaras ultimately re-joining New Democracy and going on to become party leader and prime minister.
Nikos Dendias (mentioned at 00:39:47) is a New Democracy politician and the current Minister of Public Order and Citizen Protection in Greece. His first act upon being appointed in July 2012 was to launch Xenios Zeus, a nationwide sweep operation for undocumented migrants, thousands of which are currently detained in police stations and detention camps.
Makis Voridis (mentioned at 00:42:57) is a Greek lawyer and far-right politician. He was best known for his fascist, anti-Semitic opinions, as the the founder of the Hellenic Front, until, as an MP for LAOS, he was appointed Minister for Insfrastructure, Transport and Networks in the Papademos government in 2011. He defected from LAOS to New Democracy in February 2012 and is currently ND’s parliamentary spokesman.
Adonis Giorgiadis (mentioned at 00:42:57) is a writer, publisher and politician. He was the publisher of Kostas Plevris’s book “Jews: the whole truth”. He was first elected to parliament in 2007 with LAOS and reelected in 2009, before being appointed Deputy Minister of Maritime Affairs in the Papademos government in November 2011 and defecting to New Democracy after LAOS pulled out of the government coalition. He is known for praising the Metaxas Regime, harbouring anti-Semitic, islamophobic and xenophobic views, and promoting far-right books by Plevris and other extremist writers on his daily current affairs television show, “Greek Uprising”, on the far-right television station TeleAsty. He is often invited on mainstream TV shows to present the positions of New Democracy since he joined the party in in February 2012.
The Hellenic Front (mentioned at 00:43:19) was a far-right, nationalist party founded by Makis Voridis in 1994. It was absorbed by LAOS in 2005.
Aghios Panteleimonas (mentioned at 00:44:58) is a neglected inner-city neighbourhood of Athens where Golden Dawn has a strong grassroots presence. It has become the symbol of the rise of Golden Dawn due to the fact that assaults against migrants began there several years before they became a common occurrence across Greece. Golden Dawn shut down the playground on the square of Aghios Panteleimonas to prevent immigrants from accessing it and has drawn a huge graffiti “Greece is for Greeks” on the pavement in front of the church stairs. The letter “s” in the graffiti is drawn as the symbol for the SS.
Michalis Chrisochoidis (mentioned at 00:47:12) is a lawyer and politician with the socialist party PASOK. As Minister of Citizen Protection from March to May 2012, he launched the construction of “Centres of Closed Hospitality”, an euphemism for detention camps for undocumented migrants, which are currently used in the framework of the Xenios Zeus sweep operation launched by his successor Nikos Dendias. In the interview, Dimitris Psarras refers to them as “concentration camps”.
Ion Dragoumis (mentioned at 01:13:21) was a Greek diplomat and writer who was instrumental in the so-called Macedonian Struggle, a series of conflicts between Greece and Bulgaria over the ownership of Ottoman Macedonia in 1904-1908. The conflicts took place in the framework of the Megali Idea, an irredentist concept of Greek nationalism which called for the annexation of all lands with ethnic Greek populations. The Young Turk revolution in 1908 put an end to the conflict. In an ironic twist of history, Dragoumis was also the lover of writer Penelope Delta, the great-grandmother of current Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, who wrote herself several nationalist books about the Macedonian Struggle.
The Periandros trial (mentioned at 01:14:54) refers to the trial of Antonis Androutsopoulos, a senior Golden Dawn official accused of attempted murder against three men. Michalis Chrisochoidis, who was Minister of Public Order in 2005, had ordered his arrest, but internal police investigations found that attempts to arrest him had been sabotaged. Androutsopoulos then handed himself to the authorities in September 2005. He was found guilty and sentenced to 21 years in prison in 2006; his sentence was later reduced to 12 years in 2009 when the appeals court recognized only one attempt at murder. Many Golden Dawn members were in attendance at the courthouse in support.