by Aggelos Skordas
Four anarchists have been detained on Thursday while heading to Thessaloniki two days ahead of the city’s annual international fair. The vehicle of the four was stopped by police officers on the national highway from Athens to Thessaloniki and during the search that followed the police found hammers, gas masks and helmets.
One of the suspects had been arrested in 2014 for similar offences, while the other three are known members of the anti-establishment movement, with police officers linking their presence in Thessaloniki with the upcoming international fair and the expected protest scheduled for the weekend, when Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will deliver his annual speech during which he will present his government’s financial program for the year ahead.
The above incident, only a few hours after members of the Rouvikonas anarchist group raided into the headquarters of the Federation of Industries of Northern Greece in downtown Thessaloniki, is indicative of the Greek authorities’ high-security alert ahead of the 83rdThessaloniki International Fair (TIF).
Specifically, some 5,500 to 6,000 police officers, snipers, a helicopter and drones have been mobilized for the maintenance of the order during the TIF in which the United States is the honoured country this year. For the security of the US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and the numerous delegation of US business delegation, the Greek police have cooperated with CIA and FBI agents, with the second having a strong presence in the Greek city.
The draconian security measures imposed by the Greek authorities in Thessaloniki include the mobilization of a large force of the Hellenic Coast Guard, as the US fleet flagship, USS Mount Whitney will be docked at the city’s port.
It should be noted that the Greek Premier arrived at Thessaloniki on Thursday night under tight security measures and unprecedented secrecy, while his schedule prior to his planned speech on Saturday remains unknown.
Despite the increased security measures much of the downtown area was cordoned off by a march of health workers protesting against spending cuts and shortages at public hospitals, followed by a second rally by uniformed officers of the armed and security forces. The main rally organized by the public worker’s unions is scheduled for Saturday afternoon at the same time with Tspras’ speech.