Right-wing Golden Dawn politician assaults women live on Greek TV

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Greece’s election campaign descended into violence on live television yesterday when an MP from the extreme-right Golden Dawn party lunged at two female left-wing politicians on a talk show, hitting one in the face.

• MP Ilias Kasidiaris slapped one MP and threw water on another

In this image taken off a TV screen, Ilias Kasidiaris, 2nd left, assaults Liana Kanelli, an MP for the Greek Communist party during a talk show. Photo: AP.

In this image taken off a TV screen, Ilias Kasidiaris, 2nd left, assaults Liana Kanelli, an MP for the Greek Communist party during a talk show. Photo: AP.

• Kasidiaris is a member of the Golden Dawn party, which denies being neo-Nazi affiliated but is accused of attacks against immigrants

The confrontation, a week and a half ahead of parliamentary elections, stunned Greeks as they seek to avoid a catastrophic exit from the euro single currency.

A prosecutor later issued an arrest warrant for Ilias Kasidiaris, whose far-right party alarmed moderate Europeans by gaining 21 of the 300 seats in Greece’s 6 May parliamentary elections.

Golden Dawn, which denies being a neo-Nazi movement, has been accused of attacks on immigrants in Athens. The party has said it had no involvement in the beatings, insisting it is a nationalist patriotic group.

The TV bust-up “put on public display what was widely known, the true face of this criminal organisation,” said the left-wing Syriza party, which is led by Alexis Tsipras, whose member Rena Dourou was also splashed with water on the show.

Tempers frayed on the daily morning political slot on the Antenna TV station during an election debate, featuring representatives of all seven parties that won seats in last month’s poll.

Discussion had turned to natural resources, but went off on a tangent about Greek political history. Greece suffered a vicious civil war between Communists paritsans and Rightists after the Second World War, and a seven-year military dictatorship that only ended in 1974.

Mr Kasidiaris, his temper wearing thin, shot an insult of “you old Commie” at 58-year-old Communist Party member Liana Kanelli, after she branded him a “fascist.” Mr Kasidiaris, 31, who served in the special forces, also took offence at a reference by Ms Dourou to a court case pending against him, in which he is accused of a 2007 attack on a student.

Ms Dourou said there was a “crisis of democracy when people who will take the country back 500 years have got into the Greek parliament”, at which point Mr Kasidiaris bounded out of his seat and hurled a glass of water at her, shouting an insult translated as “you circus act.”

Show host Giorgos Papadakis ran over to Mr Kasidiaris, attempting to calm him. But the Golden Dawn member turned on Ms Kanelli, who had stood up and appeared to throw a newspaper at him. Mr Kasidiaris hit Ms Kanelli three times .

“The government condemns in the most categorical way the attack by Golden Dawn spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris against Liana Kanelli and Rena Dourou,” a government spokesman Dimitris Tsiodras said. “This attack is an attack against every democratic citizen.”

He called on Golden Dawn to condemn its member’s actions.

But Golden Dawn said it was Ms Kanelli who first attacked Mr Kasidiaris, “hitting him unprovoked in the face with a packet of documents. Golden Dawn continues its fight for a strong nationalist movement against everyone, and against the orphans of Marx, who dominate on TV channels and are playing a dirty propaganda game,” the party said.