Greek students interrupt TV news bulletin

A GROUP of Greek students have interrupted the state television news, as police used tear gas against another group of protesters near parliament.

“There has been an occupation at the state television channel NET and we are dealing with it,” government spokesman Elias Mossialos said today.

“They are students, this is not an issue related to the channel,” he said, without providing further detail.

Some 50 students walked into the channel headquarters, police said, apparently with the intention of broadcasting a message opposing a reform to modernise Greek universities that has sparked sit-ins at many faculties.

But the station authorities turned down their demand and to avoid an on-camera intervention – after a similar incident three years ago – the 7pm GMT news that was starting was pulled off the air and a travel documentary was inserted instead.

Outside parliament in central Athens, police used tear gas to prevent protesters opposing the government’s economic policies from blocking a central Athens avenue in front of the building, an AFP photographer said.

Some 2000 people had gathered earlier on neighbouring Syntagma Square, which earlier this year was the centre of protest meetings against the government by an “indignant” movement modeled on Spanish anti-crisis protests earlier in the year.

Greek reports said a group of protesters had thrown bottles at police.

The police played down the incident, which took place as Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos is in Washington for talks on a new wave of cutbacks aimed at securing loan funds before state coffers run dry in October.

“There was limited use of tear gas after a group of protesters tried to block the road,” police said.

Much of the anger is directed against a controversial property tax imposed on top of pay and pension cuts and sales tax hikes already enacted.

Several ruling party MPs have been heckled in their home constituencies over the measures, and a junior minister was hit by an egg during a visit to Crete today.

A 32-year-old woman was arrested over the incident.


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