The latest nationwide industrial action called by Greece's two main unions against pending austerity measures was again marred by sporadic but high-profile violence in downtown Athens' Syntagma Square on Tuesday afternoon, as hundreds of self-styled anarchist and anti-state youths did their best to turn an otherwise peaceful and massive demonstration into a violent confrontation with riot police.
The scene, gaggles of masked youths -- some wearing gas masks -- throwing stones and objects at body armour-clad riot police who, in turn, respond with tear gas, has been played dozens of times over the past decades on Athens' streets. However, on Tuesday this same "scene" was broadcast live by international news agencies and given urgent status by wire services, as the Greek Parliament's 300 MPs will vote on Wednesday over the latest round of austerity measures, tax hikes, continued reforms and accelerated privatisations -- the Medium-term Fiscal Strategic Programme.
The latter is expected to determine the fate of continued instalments of the 110-billion-euro EC-ECB-IMF bailout for debt-plagued Greece, and, just as importantly, lead the way for a second Memorandum, if necessary.
According to eyewitness reports from the scene, the larger bulk of protesters -- nearer to Parliament on the eastern side of Syntagma Square -- attempted to deflect and ward off the masked youths in order for the peaceful mobilisations to continue.
Both GSEE and ADEDY, representing the private sector and civil servants, respectively, maintained that the first day of the 48-hour strike action was met with success, although a protest rally organised at a smaller square a few kilometres from Syntagma -- Pedion tou Areos -- was disappointing in size. One possibility is that most would-be protesters opted to join the so-called "Indignados" movement centred Syntagma Square for the past month.
Six people were hospitalised for injuries sustained during the violence around Syntagma Square.
Meanwhile, protest marches in Thessaloniki were concluded peacefully.
Back in Athens, five people arrested, while 17 were held for questioning during the incidents that took place in the afternoon.
A total of 21 police officers were injured by rocks and other objects thrown during the incidents and were taken to a military hospital for treatment.