Ilias Kasidiaris, a member of parliament for the Greek neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn, has assaulted two female politicians on live television, following a heated debate. The brawl occurred on Thursday morning during a talk show. Kasidiaris, who is the spokesman of the extremist and anti-Semitic party, took umbrage at the left-wing lawmaker Rena Dourou for declaring that his party would take Greece “back 500 years". After leaping from his seat and throwing a glass of water at Dourou, Kasidiaris then turned on Liana Kanelli, an MP for the Communist party, who, waving a piece of paper, stood up to condemn the action, and lashed out at her, slapping Kanelli in the face three times.
Talkshow presenter Giorgos Papadakis tried to intervene but within moments other guests present said the neo-Nazi MP – who formerly served in a special forces unit of the Greek military - had fled the studio.The video footage of the incident prompted state prosecutor Eleni Raikou to order the immediate arrest of Kasidiaris.
The 31-year-old was elected to the 300-seat parliament last month and is standing again for the upcoming elections later this month. The newly elected legislature was dissolved again in May after no party managed to form a government. In a shock result widely condemned across Europe, Golden Dawn won 7 percent of the vote and parliamentary representation for the first time in its history. Party leaders have so far refused to condemn the inciden.
Kasidiaris is no newcomer to charges of violence himself. Last Monday the appeared in court accused of aiding and abetting an armed robbery in which a postgraduate student was savagely stabbed in 2007. The trial was postponed to 11 June.
The brawl was met with outrage by parties across Greece's normally divisive political scene. Prokopis Pavlopoulos, a former conservative New Democracy minister also participating in the talkshow, said Kasidiaris's behavior should leave Greeks in "no doubt" as to the true nature of the Golden Dawn party. "Now that they have seen what this party is really about, Greeks will have no alibi to vote for them again. I, personally, will never take part in a debate with a member of Chrysi Avgi again," Pavlopoulos was quoted as saying by the British newspaper ‘The Guardian’.
Last week, several Golden Dawn lawmakers, including party leader Nikos Michaloliakos, were briefly arrested by police following an attack on a Pakistani man in Athens.