Stand-up comedian Alexandros Titkov and musician Thomas Lalos (a.k.a. VoxPopuli) were heavily beaten and arrested after an antifascist protest near Victoria Square in Athens last Wednesday. The protest was organised to counter a far-right demonstration that took place on the same square that day by Golden Dawn members and far-right sympathisers, under the sheep hide of "concerned citizens" and "resident committees" with anti-immigrant and racist demands.
The police attacked unprovoked the antifascist group of around 600 people, as they were leaving the square and marching up Patission Avenue. In a video posted on Youtube, Titkov is randomly singled out and beaten by four policemen, at which point Lalos runs to help him and gets arrested too. According to sources, the police planted evidence on the pair after they got arrested and were charged with actions they did not commit.
Titkov and Lalos appeared in court yesterday, where they were released with restrictive measures that prevent them from entering the neighbourhood of Exarcheia and from participating in any large gatherings in the future. In a statement, their lawyer has called this decision "unprecedented and unconstitutional", and said that the several videos that were taken during the incident prove "the innocence of the accused and the guilt of the police".
A crowd of artists cheered Titkov and Lalos as they exited the court yesterday. Many others have expressed their solidarity online and stand-up comedians took the opportunity to grill the government and support their colleague. After their release, the two issued a joint statement where they express their solidarity to migrants and refugees, that they are not afraid of police violence and thank everyone for their support.
One of the videos that shows the police beating up Titkov unprovoked was taken by journalist Eleftheria Koumandou; she works for Athina 9,84 radio station, which is owned by the municipality of Athens. Far-right sympathiser and Greek MP Konstantinos Bogdanos targeted Koumandou on social media soon after her videos appeared online.
Bogdanos asked Koumandou's employers via Twitter whether they adopt the journalist's "totally false and unacceptably partial coverage" and threatened that he would intervene with the city council. The radio station responded that it never censors its journalists, and it is common knowledge that the opinions of one journalist do not represent the medium they work for.
Koumandou has been reporting on the still ongoing Golden Dawn trial for years, and is a founding member of the watchdog group Golden Dawn Watch.
The Greek chapter of Amnesty International has issued statements about the escalation of police violence in Greece and the recent prohibition of protests and demonstrations in Greece.