Violent clashes broke out this afternoon at an auction of foreclosed properties between police and activists who oppose the sell-off of seized properties.
The scuffles occurred outside a room at the Athens lower court where the property auction was being held.
The Greek Communist Party (KKE)-linked PAME trade unionists, members of the “Can’t pay? Won’t pay!” movement, and members of Panagiotis Lafazanis’ Popular Unity (LAE) party (a pro-drachma Syriza splinter party) were among the protesters.
The smooth operation of seized property auctions is a key precondition for the completion of Greece’s third bailout evaluation, and the government has expressed its determination to fully meet that requirement.
The successful management of non-performing loans is widely considered a prerequisite for the solvency of Greek banks, which might otherwise be pushed toward bail-ins, which the government and creditors seek to avoid at all costs.
Before coming to power, the ruling Syriza party had made its opposition to the auctioning off of seized properties a key platform plank. Their slogan “no home in the hands of a banker” has been used by opposition parties to haunt them.
Police, in their effort to keep protesters from approaching the courtroom where the auction was being held, engaged in protracted violent scuffles and use tear gas to disperse the crowd.
In the past, there have been violent attacks by protesters against notaries conducting auctions, causing them to go on strike.
Lafazanis’ party lashed out at the government on the official LAE website.
“The auctions ‘junta’ of Tsipras, [Justice Minister Stavros] Kontonis, and [Athens Notaries’ Association President Georgios] Rouskas, badly beat and inundated with chemicals the protesters who are reacting to the seizure of primary residences of the working class, this afternoon at the Athens lower court,” the statement said.
LAE said that party member and former Kaisariani mayor Thanasis Bartzokas was injured by police and taken to the state Evangelismos Hospital in central Athens.