Top Greek official resigns over Golden Dawn video
It’s a dim lit room with religious icons and the speaker is the Greek cabinet secretary, Takis Baltakos. The man off camera, secretly filming it all, is an MP for the violent fascist party, Golden Dawn.
Warning: this video contains language that some viewers may find offensive
And he’s no ordinary MP.
Ilias Kasidiaris was arrested when the state cracked down on Golden Dawn, last September, but is most famous for physically assaulting two female election candidates, live on Greek TV.
Now, with the secret cameras rolling, the lieutenant of the Greek prime minister explains why – to their surprise – some of the fascist MPs were released.
There was no proof against them, he says, adding “nobody called the prosecutors to put pressure on them because they thought it was going to be smooth”.
When the far-right MP asks why the Greek prime minister ordered the crackdown, the cabinet secretary replies: “because you were taking votes from him”, thus giving the far left the lead.
Throughout the conversation the tone is of extreme crude language and informality.
This is the “back channel” of modern political life – where politicians make phone calls to put pressure on prosecutors – shocking enough to those who believe Greek democracy is as pure as the soldiers’ white uniforms outside its parliament.
But what’s really shocking about the video is that Mr Baltakos – a close associate of the Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras – is in informal communication with a party whose leaders keep guns and Nazi memorabilia at home, and which has been linked to numerous racist attacks.
When I covered the crackdown in September 2013 numerous Greek people expressed the view that it was a pangiri – a circus. On this evidence, there was certainly a political motive.
Worse, those who expressed the “circus” interpretation feared that any legitimate prosecution would be called into question by the politicisation and drama surrounding the arrests – dawn raids by armed men in balaclavas, screaming sirens through the streets etc.
The entire political class of Greece is clustered into a coalition government headed by a man who, on the admission of his lieutenant, was trying to influence due process.
That is what Mr Baltakos says in the video. We, the rest of Europe, Britain included, have spent billions propping this government up.
Now – with Greece in the middle of local and euro elections – it will go to the polls facing a radical left party on the ascendant and a fascist party that will claim legal vindication.
If these were the Russian elections the international community would be demanding election monitors from the OSCE.
Instead it will ladle even more money in the direction of Mr Samaras and his ministers so they can eff and blind their way through the corridors of power for another year.
If the crackdown on Golden Dawn was a circus, at least now there is no need to send in the clowns.
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