Golden Dawn (Greek Χρυσή Αυγή, Chrysi Avgi), is a far-right Greek political organisation led by Nikolaos Michaloliakos. It expresses anti-immigration views and its members are often accused of violent attacks on immigrants. It expresses sympathy with the regime of Ioannis Metaxas. Scholars and media describe it as neo-Nazi and fascist although the group rejects these labels.
Golden Dawn describes itself as a "People's Nationalist Movement" and "uncompromising Nationalists." Michaloliakos described Golden Dawn as opposing the "so-called Enlightenment" and the Industrial Revolution. Religiously, they currently support both Hellenism and the Greek Orthodox Church. The charter also puts the leader in total control of the party, and formalizes the use of the Roman salute for party members.
Michaloliakos began the foundations of what would become Golden Dawn in 1980. It first received widespread attention in 1991 and, in 1993, was registered as a political party. It temporarily ceased political operations in 2005, and was absorbed by the Patriotic Alliance. The Alliance in turn ceased operations after Michaloliakos withdrew support. In March 2007, Golden Dawn held its sixth congress, where Party officials announced the resumption of their political activism. At local elections on November 7, 2010, Golden Dawn got 5.3 percent of the vote in the municipality of Athens, winning a seat at the City Council. In some neighbourhoods with big immigrant communities it even reached 20 percent. In the Greek legislative election, 2012, it achieved seven percent of the popular vote, enough to enter the Hellenic Parliament for the first time. The seven percent of the vote that Golden Dawn won on the national elections of 6 May 2012 gave the party 21 seats in the Greek Parliament.
- 1 History
- 2 Activities
- 3 Political representation
- 4 Violence by and against Golden Dawn
- 5 Allegations of connections to the Greek Police
- 6 Allegations of Nazism
- 7 Footnotes
- 8 External links
In December 1980, Nikolaos Michaloliakos, and a group of his supporters launched Chrysi Avgi magazine. Michaloliakos (a mathematician and a dishonourably-discharged former commando reservist officer) had been active in far right politics for many years, and he had been arrested several times for politically-motivated offences, such as beating attacks and illegal possession of explosive materials, which led to his discharge from the military. While he was in prison, Michaloliakos met the leaders of the military junta of 1967–1974 and laid the foundations of the Chrysi Avgi party. The characteristics of the magazine and the organisation were clearly National Socialist. Chrysi Avgi magazine stopped being published in April 1984, when Michaloliakos joined the National Political Union and took over the leadership of its youth section. In January 1985, he broke away from the National Political Union and founded the Popular National Movement – Chrysi Avgi, which was officially recognised as a political party in 1993.
Golden Dawn remained largely on the margins of far right politics until the Macedonia naming dispute in 1991 and 1992. The Greek newspaper Eleftherotypia reported that on October 10, 1992, about thirty Golden Dawn members attacked left-wing students at the Athens University of Economics and Business during a massive demonstration against the use of the name Macedonia by the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Around the same time, the first far right street gangs appeared under the leadership of Yiannis Giannopoulos, a former military officer who was involved with the South African Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB) during the 1980s. After the events of 1991 and 1992, Golden Dawn had gained a stable membership of more than 200 members, and Giannopoulos rose within the party hierarchy. Golden Dawn ran in the 1994 European Parliament election, gaining 7,264 votes nationwide, 0.11% of the total votes cast.
In the 1980s, the party embraced Hellenic Neopagan beliefs, writing in praise of the Twelve Olympians and describing Marxism and liberalism as "the ideological carriers of Judeo-Christianity." Later, however, the party underwent ideological changes, also welcoming Greek Orthodox Christianity.
A few Golden Dawn members participated in the Bosnian War in the Greek Volunteer Guard (GVG), which was part of the Drina Corps of the Army of Republika Srpska. A few GVG volunteers were present in Srebrenica during the Srebrenica massacre, and they raised a Greek flag at a ruined church after the fall of the town. Spiros Tzanopoulos, a GVG sergeant who took part in the attack against Srebrenica, said many of the Greek volunteers participated in the war because they were members of Golden Dawn. Golden Dawn members in the GVG were decorated by Radovan Karadžić, but — according to former Golden Dawn member Charis Kousoumvris — those who were decorated later left the party.
In April 1996, Giannopoulos represented the party at a pan-European convention of nationalist parties in Moscow, where he presented a bust of Alexander the Great to Liberal Democratic Party of Russia leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky for his birthday. Golden Dawn participated in the 1996 legislative election in September, receiving 4,487 votes nationwide - 0.07% of the votes cast. In October 1997, Giannopoulos published an article in Chrysi Avgi magazine calling for nationalist vigilantism against immigrants and left-wingers. In 1998, a prominent party member, Antonios Androutsopoulos, assaulted left wing student activist Dimitris Kousouris. The resulting media attention, along with internal party conflicts (due to poor results in the 1996 elections), led some of its most extreme members (such as Giannopoulos) to gradually fade from official party affairs.
Golden Dawn continued to hold rallies and marches, and it ran in the 1999 European Parliament election in an alliance with the Front Line party, gaining 48,532 votes nationwide - 0.75% of the votes cast. Eleftherotypia criticicized Chrysi Avgi in 2005 after party members distributed homophobic fliers during an Athens gay pride parade.
2005 and later
According to Golden Dawn's leader, Nikolaos Michaloliakos, the party paused its own autonomous political activities after December 1, 2005, due to clashes with extreme leftists/communists. Golden Dawn members had been instructed to continue their activism within the Patriotic Alliance party, which was very closely linked to Golden Dawn. The former leader of Patriotic Alliance, Dimitrios Zafiropoulos, was once a member of Golden Dawn's political council, and Michaloliakos became a leading member of Patriotic Alliance. Extreme leftist/communist groups had accused the Patriotic Alliance of simply being the new name of Golden Dawn. Activities by Patriotic Alliance's members were often attributed to Golden Dawn (even by themselves), creating confusion. This is the main reason Golden Dawn's members announced the withdrawal of their support of the Patriotic Alliance, which eventually led to the interruption of the Alliance's political activities. In March 2007, Golden Dawn held its sixth congress and announced the continuation of their political and ideological activism.
In 2010, Golden Dawn won 5.3% of the vote in Athens. In June 2011, "Foreign Policy" reported that in the midst of the 2010–2011 Greek protests, gangs of Golden Dawn members are increasingly being seen in some of the higher-crime areas of Athens.
In the Greek Parliament elections in 2012, the party received 6.97% of the popular vote; the parliamentary seats are still not vacated, following the normal proceedings, since there still is no resulting government.
Shortly after the elections, WordPress shut down Golden Dawn's official website and blog due to alleged violation of their Terms and Conditions.
The party created the Epitropi Ethnikis Mnimis (Committee of National Memory), to organise demonstrations commemorating the anniversaries of certain Greek national events. Since 1996, Epitropi Ethnikis Mninis organizes an annual march usually on January 31 in Athens, in memory of three Greek officers who died during the Imia military crisis. According to the European National Front website, the 2006 march was attended by 2,500 people, although no neutral sources have confirmed that number. Epitropi Ethnikis Mninis has continued its activities, and the January 31 march took place in 2010.March 2012
Epitropi Ethnikis Mnimis has organized annual rallies on June 17 in Thessalonica, in memory of Alexander the Great. Police confronted the 2006 rally participants, forcing Golden Dawn and Patriotic Alliance members to leave the area after conflicts with leftist groups. Later that day, Golden Dawn members gathered in the building of [state-owned television channel ERT3 and held a protest as they tried to stop the channel from broadcasting. Police surrounded the building and arrested 48 Chrysi Avgi members.
In September 2005, Golden Dawn attempted to organise a festival called "Eurofest 2005 – Nationalist Summer Camp" at the grounds of a Greek summer camp. The planned festival depended on the participation of the German National Democratic Party of Germany, the Italian Forza Nuova and the Romanian Noua Dreaptă, as well as Spanish and American far-right groups. The festival was banned by the government.
Golden Dawn's Youth Front has distributed fliers with nationalist messages in Athens schools and organised white power concerts. It publishes the white nationalist magazine Resistance Hellas-Antepithesi, which promotes far-right ideology to young people through articles related to music and sports. The magazine is a sister publication of the United States-based National Alliance's Resistance magazine. The collaboration between Greek nationalists and American racists began in 2001, after National Alliance founder William Luther Pierce visited Thessalonica, Greece. Pierce's successor, Erich Gliebe, ratified the collaboration after Pierce's death.
Violence by and against Golden Dawn
Members of Golden Dawn have been accused of carrying out acts of violence and hate crimes against immigrants, political opponents and ethnic minorities. Golden Dawn's offices have been attacked many times by anarchists and leftists.  Clashes between members of Golden Dawn and leftists have not been unusual.
In January 1998, Alexis Kalofolias, vocalist of the band The Last Drive, was attacked and suffered permanent damage to his right eye, losing two percent of his eyesight. KLIK magazine and left wing newspaper Eleftherotypia reported that members of Golden Dawn were responsible for the attack.
In 2000, unknown suspects vandalized the Monastirioton synagogue, a memorial for Holocaust victims and Jewish cemeteries in Thessaloniki and Athens. There were claims that Chrysi Avgi's symbols were present at all four sites. The KIS, the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece, the Coalition of the Left, of Movements and Ecology, the Greek Helsinki Monitor and others issued statements condemning these acts. The Cyprus chapter of Chrysi Avgi has been accused of attacks against Turkish Cypriots, and one member was arrested for attacking Turkish-Cypriots in 2005.
In November 2005, Golden Dawn's offices were attacked by a group of Anarchists with molotov cocktails and stones. There were gunshots, and two people (who testified that they were just passing by) were injured. According to Golden Dawn, three suspects were arrested and set free. During the subsequent police investigation, molotov cocktails left overs were discovered in Golden Dawn's offices. Golden Dawn has stated that this was the reason for the organisation's disbandment.
In September 2013, a fight between Golden Dawn members and a group of leftists resulted in the stabbing and killing of Pavlos Fyssas - a rap artist. As the alleged murderer had been in contact with several Golden Dawn members prior to the fight, the Greek Ministry of Justice searched Golden Dawn offices and went so far as to have chairman Nikos Michaloliakos and his chief spokesman, Elias Kasidiaris arrested on charges of "forming a criminal organisation".
On October 6, 1999, during a football match between the Greek and Albanian national teams in Athens, Albanian supporters burnt a Greek flag in the stadium's stand. This act was captured and broadcast extensively by the Greek media that day and for many days after. That led to a series of angry reactions by Greek nationalists against foreign immigrants. In a specific case, on the night of October 22, Pantelis Kazakos, a nationalist and a member of the Golden Dawn, feeling as he stated: "insulted by the burning of the Greek flag", shot nine people in the center of Athens. The result of his attack was two people killed, and seven others wounded, of whom four remained paralysed for the rest of their lives. All were immigrants. Other Golden Dawn members, feeling also "insulted by the burning of the Greek flag", formed the hooligan firm Galazia Stratia (Greek for "Blue Army") the same month (October 2000). It has described itself as a "fan club of the Greek national teams" and its goal as "to defend Greek national pride inside the stadiums." It has been reported that following Golden Dawn's official disbandment in 2005, many former party members have put most of their energy into promoting Galazia Stratia. Galazia Stratia is closely linked to Golden Dawn, and the two groups shared the same street address. Golden Dawn made no attempt to deny the connections, openly praising the actions of Galazia Stratia in its newspaper, and accepting praise in return from the firm.
Galazia Stratia and Golden Dawn have been accused of various acts of sports-related violence. In September 2004, after a football match between Greece and Albania in Tirana (in which Greece lost 2–1), Albanian immigrants living in Greece went out on the streets of Athens and other cities celebrating their victory, Greek hooligans felt provoked by this and violence erupted against Albanian immigrants in various parts of Greece, resulting in one murdered Albanian in Zakynthos and many other Albanians injured. Golden Dawn and Galazia Stratia were proven to be directly responsible for many of the attacks. According to Eleftherotypia, Galazia Stratia members severely beat a Palestinian and a Bangladeshi during celebrations following the success of the Greek national basketball team at the 2006 FIBA World Championship.
Antonios Androutsopoulos (aka Periandros), a prominent member of Golden Dawn, was a fugitive from 1998 to September 14, 2005 after being accused of the June 16, 1998 attempted murder of three left-wing students — including Dimitris Kousouris, who was badly injured. Androutsopoulos had been sentenced in absentia to four years of prison for illegal weapon possession while the attempted murder charges against him were still standing.
The authorities' failure to apprehend Androutsopoulos for seven years raised criticisms by the Greek media. A Ta Nea article claimed that Periandros remained in Greece and evaded arrest due to connections with the police. In a 2004 interview, Michalis Chrisochoidis, the former minister of public order of PASOK, claimed that such accusations were unfounded, and he blamed the inefficiency of the Greek police. Some allege that Androutsopoulos had evaded arrest because he had been residing in Venezuela until he turned himself in 2005. His trial began on September 20, 2006, and he was convicted to 21 years in prison on September 25, 2006. Hrisi Avgi members were present in his trial, shouting nationalist slogans, and he reportedly hailed them using the Nazi salute.
On February 2, 2008, Golden Dawn planned to hold the annual march for the twelfth anniversary of the Imia military crisis. Anti-fascist groups organised a protest in order to cancel the march, as a response to racist attacks supposedly caused by Golden Dawn members. Golden Dawn members occupied the square in which the march was to take place, and when anti-fascists showed up, clashes occurred. During the riots that followed, Golden Dawn members were seen attacking the anti-fascists with riot police doing nothing to stop them and actually letting them pass through their lines. This led to two people being wounded by knife and another two wounded by rocks. There were allegations that Chrysi Avgi members even carried police equipment with them and that Golden Dawn's equipment was carried inside a police van.
Athens office bombing
On March 19, 2010, a bomb described by the police as of "moderate power," was detonated in the fifth floor office of Golden Dawn, in downtown Athens. Twenty-five minutes prior to the blast, an unidentified caller contacted a local newspaper in order to announce the attack, thus leading to the evacuation of the targeted building and the surrounding area. The explosion caused substantial damage to property, but did not inflict casualties. The office was reopened on April 10, 2010.
Allegations of connections to the Greek Police
In a 1998 interview with the newspaper Eleftherotypia, Georgios Romaios (the then Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) Minister for Public Order) alleged the existence of "fascist elements in the Greek police", and vowed to suppress them. In a TV interview that same year, Romaios again claimed that there was a pro-fascist group within the police force although he said it was not organized, and was only involved in isolated incidents. The same year, Eleftherotypia published a lengthy article called "The lower limbs of the police", which outlined connections between the police and neo-fascism. Dimitris Reppas, the PASOK government spokesman, strongly denied such connections. However, the article quoted a speech by PASOK Member of Parliament Paraskevas Paraskevopoulos about a riot caused by right wing extremists, in which he said:
"In Thessaloniki it is widely discussed that far-right organisations are active in the security forces. Members of such organisations were the planners and chief executioners of the riot and nobody was arrested. A Special Forces officer, speaking at a briefing of Special Forces policemen that were to be on duty that day, told the policemen not to arrest anyone because the rioters were not enemies and threatened that should this be overlooked there would be penalties."
Before the surrender of Androutsopoulos, an article by the newspaper Ta Nea claimed that the Golden Dawn had close relationships with some parts of the Greek police force. In relation to the Periandros case, the article quoted an unidentified police officer who said that "half the force wanted Periandros arrested and the other half didn't". The article claimed that there was a confidential internal police investigation which concluded that:
- Golden Dawn had very good relations and contacts with officers of the force, on and off duty, as well as with common policemen.
- The police provided the group with batons and radio communications equipment during mass demonstrations, mainly during celebrations of the Athens Polytechnic uprising and during rallies by left-wing and anarchist groups, in order to provoke riots.
- The connections of the group with the force, as well as connections with Periandros, largely delayed his arrest.
- The brother of "Periandros", also a member of Golden Dawn, was a security escort of an unnamed New Democracy MP.
- Many Golden Dawn members were illegally carrying various kinds of weapons.
The newspaper published a photograph of a typewritten paragraph with no identifiable insignia as evidence of the secret investigation. In the article, the Minister for Public Order, Michalis Chrysochoidis, responded that he did not recollect such a probe. Chrysochoidis also denied accusations that far right connections within the police force delayed the arrest of Periandros. He said that leftist groups, including the ultra-left anti-state resistance group 17 November, responsible for several murders, had similarly evaded the police for decades. In both cases, he attributed the failures to "stupidity and incompetence" on behalf of the force.
Golden Dawn stated that rumours about the organisation having connections to the Greek police and the government are untrue, and that the police had intervened in Golden Dawn's rallies and had arrested members of the Party several times while the New Democracy party was in power (for example, during a rally in Thessaloniki in June 2006, and at a rally for the anniversary of the Greek genocide, in Athens, also in 2006). Also, on January 2, 2005, anti-fascist and leftist groups invaded Golden Dawn's headquarters in Thessaloniki, under heavy police surveillance. Although riot police units were near the entrance of the building alongside the intruders, they allegedly did not attempt to stop their actions.
In more recent years, anti-fascist and left-wing groups have claimed that many of Golden Dawn's members have close relations (and/or collaborating) with the Greek Central Intelligence Agency (KYP), and also accused the party's general-secretary Nikolaos Michaloliakos of working for the KYP from the 80s. The evidence for this is an allegedly fake public document - a payslip - showing the names of both Michaloliakos and far right author and intellectual Konstantinos Plevris as operating for the agency.
Allegations of Nazism
Officially denying that it has any connection to Neo-Nazism, the party maintains that it cleaves closer to the conservative authoritarianism of Ioannis Metaxas. Its so-called Nazi salute is, according to the founder of the group, "the salute of the National Youth Organisation of Ioannis Metaxas". Its logo is likewise not a Nazi symbol but a traditional Greek meander instead.
- http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Greece+Secretive+right+party+taps+into+Greeks+anger+fear/6519781/story.html "Set up in 1992 and relaunched in 2007, the party admires Greek dictator Ioannis Metaxas, who refused to surrender to the Axis powers in 1940. It calls itself nationalist and insists its logo is the ancient Greek Meander symbolizing bravery and endless struggle"
- Greece: Secretive far-right party taps into Greeks’ anger, fear AFP, Renee Maltezou, 25 April 2012 ,
- http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2012/05/20125120322955327.html A guide to Greece's political parties, Al Jazeera, 1 May 2012, video appears to show party leader Nikos Michaloliakos giving a Nazi salute in the Athens city council. He claims, however, that it was merely "the salute of the national youth organisation of [Greek dictator] Ioannis Metaxas", reports the Athens News.
- http://www.tovima.gr/politics/article/?aid=452491 Οι φύρερ της διπλανής πόρτας "Step", 4 August 2012, Nikos Chasapopoulos, «Ο φασισμός είναι δαιμονολογία. Φασισμός στην Ιταλία σήμαινε ότι πίσω απ' αυτόν βρίσκεται το κράτος. Εμείς εδώ στην Ελλάδα πιστεύουμε στο Εθνος, στο εθνικό κράτος. Αλλωστε δεν χαιρετούσαν και Ελληνες του Μεταξά έτσι; Δεν χαιρετούσε έτσι και ο σερ Οσβαλντ Μόσλεϊ, ηγέτης της Βρετανικής Ενωσης Φασιστών, που όμως πολέμησε τους Γερμανούς;»
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- Peter Chalk: Non-Military Security in the Wider Middle East Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, volume=26, issue=3, 2003, pages=197–214 doi=10.1080/10576100390211428 "Reflecting these perceptions has been a growing sub-culture of support for neo-Nazi hate groups such as Troiseme Voie in France, Golden Dawn in Greece, Combat 18 (C18) in the United Kingdom..."
- Moses Altsech: Anti-Semitism in Greece: Embedded in Society, Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism, August 2004, page=12 "On 12 March 2004, Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn), the new weekly newspaper of the Neo-Nazi organization of that name, cited another survey indicating that the percentage of Greeks who view immigrants unfavorably is 89 percent."
- Dina Porat, Roni Stauber: Antisemitism Worldwide University of Nebraska Press |year=2002 |page=123 "The neo-Nazi Chrisi Avgi (Golden Daybreak) was the only far right group active in 2000. It was responsible for at least one antisemitic act and for attacks against left-wing targets."
- http://articles.cnn.com/2010-03-19/world/greece.explosion.neo.nazi_1_neo-nazi-greek-police-explosion?_s=PM:WORLD Explosion at Greek neo-Nazi office CNN 19 March 2010
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- url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/dec/16/rise-greek-far-right-turmoil Helena Smith: Rise of the Greek far right raises fears of further turmoil, The Guardian, 16 December 2011
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<ref>tag; name "Vima" defined multiple times with different content
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<ref>tag; name "ENF_disbandment" defined multiple times with different content
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<ref>tag; name "48arrested" defined multiple times with different content
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- Image from the article of Ta Nea
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- Bulgarian Indymedia
- http://xryshaygh.wordpress.com/2012/04/16/%CF%80%CE%BB%CE%B1%CF%83%CF%84%CE%BF-%CF%84%CE%BF-%CE%AD%CE%B3%CE%B3%CF%81%CE%B1%CF%86%CE%BF-%CF%84%CE%B7%CF%82-%CE%BA%CF%85%CF%80-%CE%BA%CE%B1%CE%B9-%CE%BC%CE%B5-%CE%B5%CF%80%CE%AF%CF%83/ Nikos Michaloliakos: fake document of KYP, Court of first instance, of Athens 52803/04
- http://articles.cnn.com/2010-03-19/world/greece.explosion.neo.nazi_1_neo-nazi-greek-police-explosion?_s=PM:WORLD Explosion at Greek neo-Nazi office, CNN 19 March 2010
- Dina Porat, Roni Stauber "Antisemitism Worldwide 2000/1", University of Nebraska Press, 2002 page=123
- Greek Voters Punish 2 Main Parties for Economic Collapse|newspaper=The New York Times|date=6 May 2012|url=http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/07/world/europe/greeks-vote-in-parliamentary-elections.html}}
- url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/dec/16/rise-greek-far-right-turmoil Helena Smith: Rise of the Greek far right raises fears of further turmoil, The Guardian, 16 December 2011
- http://books.google.com/books?id=WEasPPTkJLkC&lpg=PA284&dq=greece%20politics%20golden%20dawn&pg=PA284#v=onepage&q&f=false | isbn =0742558037, 9780742558038 Aili Piano, Arch Puddington: Freedom in the World 2006: The Annual Survey of Political Rights & Civil Liberties, Rowman & Littlefield, 2006, pages =284
- http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2012/05/20125120322955327.html A guide to Greece's political parties, Al Jazeera 1 May 2012
- http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-17898561 Lowen, Mark: Greece's far right hopes for new dawn, BBC, 30 April 2012,