Athens Burning As Police Runs Out Of Tear Gas

Tonight's protest in Athens has all the makings of the vintage ones from May of 2010, and the nigh is still young. Here are some updates:

  • FTW: Public order minister resigns in Greece as fires burn - BBC 
  • Rioting spreads across central Athens, at least 5 buildings set ablaze - AP 
  • Skai TV reports that police have run out of tear gas & have asked for more supplies to be brought

As a reminder, the final vote is not until midnight.


courtesy of ChaosTrading

AthensNews' Live blog has all the latest action:

23:35 Health ministry says 54 people have been brought to hospital, according to Skai TV.
23:12 New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras condemns rioting. Says Athens is witnessing scenes it should avoid. Calls for more patriotism.
23:11 Radical Left Coalition (Syriza) leader Alexis Tsipras: 500,000 people protested. Police attacked protesters but didn't stop arson. Claims rioters are "parastate" elements.
23:07 Skai TV reports that 35 citizens have been hospitalised.
23:04 Democratic Left leader Fotis Kouvelis says that opposition to the measures is legitimate, but destroying Athens is not.
22:47 Athens mayor Yiorgos Kaminis is speaking on Skai TV. He says that people tried to occupy the city hall, but this was stopped.
22:34 Papandreou has finished his speech. In it, he repeated a recent argument that this is a struggle between the markets and the people. [AN comment: Lend that we may be free?]
NET TV is reporting that there are ten buildings on fire in the city centre.
22:23 Pasok leader and former prime minister George Papandreou has been speaking for the last 20 minutes or so. What's he being saying? (via Diane Shugart (@dianalizia) on Twitter).
He says Greece needs Mikis Theodorakis' songs and Manolis Glezos' courage, but it needs to wage the right battle. Talks about his father and grandfather and the heritage that's in the surname. Admits that he has made mistakes, "like any man", but that Greece needs to build a state.
22:10 A Reuters wire reports:
"on the streets many businesses were ablaze, including the neo-classical home to the Attikon cinema dating from 1870 and a building housing the Asty, an underground cinema used by the Gestapo during World War Two as a torture chamber."
22:00 New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras has said that Greece must stay in the eurozone to take advantage of the Eurobonds, which he expects to come soon.
21:55 Karatzaferis has left the parliamentary chamber, followed by all his MPs but two: former transport minister Makis Voridis and shipping minister Adonis Georgiadis. The pair, who resigned from the government on Friday, have said they may vote for the measures.
21:46 Back to the parliament: Popular Orthodox Rally (Laos) leader Yiorgos Karatzaferis has said that his party will vote No.
21:42 Pasok MP Spyros Kouvelis has declared he will sit as an independent.
21:40 More than twelve buildings on fire on Stadiou and Aeolou streets. 
21:31 Alexis Tsipras, leader of the Radical Left Coaltion (Syriza), has said that a collapsing political system and a government with no popular mandate cannot negotiate on the country's behalf.
21:05 More buildings are on fire on Stadiou St, including Kosta Boda and Attikon cinema. Footage shows a huge blaze behind Stadiou St.
Police are reporting that 40 officers have been injured, two seriously.
20:55 Skai TV reports that police have run out of tear gas & have asked for more supplies to be brought.
20:52 A video has been uploaded to YouTube purporting to show how the riot police started firing tear gas into the mass of demonstrators who had assembled in front of parliament this afternoon.

20:38 Louka Katseli, a former Pasok minister, has said she will vote "no" because the austerity measures cannot get the country out of this recession.
20:22 A branch of Starbucks and Eurobank are on fire on Korai Square, off Panepistimiou St.
20:18 FinMin Venizelos has been speaking for the last 15 minutes so. He says that the country produces nothing and that is its main problem. He adds that conspiracy theories about foreigners are very convinient but don't change anything.
20:00 Six Pasok MPs - including former minister Haris Kastianidis - have said they will not vote in tonight's division. They announced their intention in a letter to the parliamentary speaker.
They six are among the 20 or so Pasok MPs who are against the agreement. By not attending, they can avoid casting a "no" vote.
19:41 Papariga also says: "We dont want a saved Greece with a bankrupt people." Adds that crisis is inevitable in capitalist system, which is based on profit and greed. Only the KKE has the solution.
19:35 The metro workers' union leader says that the metro stations were closed because police did not want the people to get to Syntagma. he says that the metro workers see no reason for the shut downs.
19:32 Manolis Glezos, the WWII resistance hero who was earlier hit by tear gas, can now be seen sitting in the parliamentary chamber, to the left of the speaker.
19:24 Communist Party (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga now speaking. Again, asks why ruling parties say a civil war will result if the measures are not passed.
19:19 Theodorakis has just spoken to the press inside parliament. He said "the people will win" just as they did against the Nazis and the junta.
19:10 Also caught up in this afternoon's tear gas was composer Mikis Theodorakis, 86. A spokeswoman from his office has told Real FM radio that police fired tear gas just as Theodorakis was about to speak to the crowd on Syntagma. She described the unprovoked attack as an "attempt to kill him" and says the police deliberately targetted him.
19:03 Four metro stations are now shut, with trains passing through without stopping: Syntagma, Evangelismos, Panepistimio and Acropolis.
18:51 Back to parliament. Independent MP Evangelos Papachristos says that parliament is being asked to vote on a document that contains gaps marked XX where figures should be. He asks colleagues are they sure they know what they're voting for. Only a handful of MPs in the chamber (via Diane Shugart (@dianalizia) on Twitter).
18.48 Eyewitnesses on Twitter are reporting that PAME, the Communist Party-affiliated trade union, is marching from Omonia to Syntagma, which they are determined to fill. 
18:43 It's being reported that tear gas has been fired on Mitropoleos St, as far down as the Orthodox Cathedral.
18:40 Reuters says that today's demonstrations were the biggest in recent months: "The crowd of tens of thousands was the biggest in months of demonstrations against the spending cuts." 
18:38 There is extensive rioting on Syntagma now, with police and rioters chasing each other around the square. A reporter observing the scene from a nearby hotel balcony says its the worst rioting he's seen in a long time.
18:23 Back to some politics: it's being reported that actress Anna Vagena, who replaced a Pasok MP who resigned yesterday, will vote against the agreement. Vangena was one of three new MPs sworn in to parliament today.
18:20 Groups of riot police are now at the lower end of Syntagma Square, near Ermou Street. Smoke can be seen coming from a kiosk, which was apparently hit by a smoke grenade.
Large crowds are still on the square and in the surrounding streets.
18:05 Second World War-resistance hero Manolis Glezos has made a statement from Syntagma.
"Is it possible to impose these measures by using tear gas ... These measures don't have the vote of the Greek people."
Glezos was wearing a surgical mask and seemed to be suffering from tear-gas inhalation.
18:01 Petrol bombs have been thrown on the street in front of the Hotel GB.
17:53 Live video feeds show black-clad and masked youths firing missiles at riot police at the main ramp entrance into parliament, where the Eleftherious Venizelos statue is.
The junction at the corner of the Hotel Grande Bretagne has cleared of people and clouds of tear gas can be seen wafting at the top of the square.
17:44 There are reports from Syntagma of protesters firing missiles at police and the police firing tear gas into the crowd 
17:42 What is the situation in the two coalition parties, where a large number of MPs have threatened to vote against the austerity measures and defy their party leaders?
It's expected that up to 20 Pasok MPs will not vote for the new memorandum, including former ministers Haris Kastanidis and Louka Katseli. One of the theories circulating is that this group of rebels could form a new party, which might be an option if they are expelled for voting 'no'. 
In New Democracy, the number of potential rebels is put at about 13.
17:27 Athens-resident Simon Rackham also tweets that the areas around Acropolis and Monastiraki metro stations is also full of people.
Today, demonstrators are unable to travel directly to Syntagma metro station, as it was shut this morning by order of the police.
17:18 We've added another live feed at the foot of this article, this time provided by StopCartel TV GR, which provides political commentary in English and Greek.
17:10 Northaura has just tweeted: "My #syntagma experience tells me that this is going to be largest demo ever #12fgr #Greece". He says others estimate the numbers of demonstrators at 25,000 and more "coming all the time".
17:05 Stadiou, one of the major thoroughfares leading off Syntagma, is reportedly full of people.
17:03 The main Syntagma demonstration is scheduled to begin now, but thousands have already assembled on the square. A line of riot police have formed a cordon across the area in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Solider.
16:55 If you want to follow the parliamentary debate in detail, then follow Diane Shugart (@dianalizia)
on Twitter. Diane used to work at the Athens News and her tweets are always informative.
16:50 And what's the situation on the ground? People on Twitter are reporting that several thousand demonstrators have gathered on Syntagma Square for this evening's protest. One puts the number at 3,000.
One of the banner being help up reads "The traitors to Goudi". It refers to the Trial of the Six, when six leading politicians and generals were tried for the 1922 Asia Minor Catastrophe and executed.
16:42 Of course, this is a crucial vote for Greece. How is it being covered on television? 
At the moment, only one - ET1 - of the major TV channels is broadcasting it live. A smaller channel, Vouli TV, is also carrying it. The other channels are running their advertised schedule, which include programmes like Sunday in the village, a documentary about gambling, a film called Fools rush in, Holidays in the Danger Zone (documentary), American Idol and soap operas and Friends.
Gambling, Fools rush in and Holidays in the Danger Zone! What a coincidence!
16:34 A vote on the constitutionality of the vote has been lost. About 30 MPs, almost all from leftwing parties, voted that it was but were outnumberd.
16:29 What's been happening in the debate so far. MPs from the Left are questioning why the vote has to be held at midnight. Venizelos: "because come Monday morning, banking and financial markets must get the message that Greece can and will survive."
The leader of the Popular Orthodox Rally (Laos) called for immediate elections a short time ago.
16:15 And we found a live streaming video from Syntagma. It's provided by and it's available at the foot of this page.
15:47 We're trying to find a live streaming video from Syntagma. A group called Live Cartel TV will have one from 5pm, but at the moment it's showing old footage from previous demonstrations and riots from the square. Not everyone on Twitter seems to have understood that, so thousands now believe that there's a mass riot underway on the square!
15:30 There's small break in debate as a new MP is sworn in - by an Orthodox priest - to replace a Pasok MP who resigned on Friday.
15:23 If you want to get a sense of the tensions in parliament, then check out this scene from last (Saturday) night's debate in the parliament's finance committee on the bailout deal. It shows Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos lash out at a Radical Left Coalition MP, Panayiotis Lafazanis, accusing him of having nothing to contribute to Greek society.
A knowledge of Greek is not required: the shouting and table thumbing suffice: