About two hundred communist demonstrators breached security at the Acropolis in Athens to call for Europe-wide protests against government austerity measures.
It is the latest expression of anger against the deal Greece signed with the EU and International Monetary Fund to secure a multi-billion euro bailout.
A 48 hour public sector strike begins today ahead of a general strike tomorrow. Opinion polls reveal widespread dismay at the tax increases, price rises and pay cuts being introduced.
A service station manager faced with a hike in petrol prices said the IMF was “like a new dictator” who would be “seeking to suck our blood every three months”.
Smokers will also be hit by a 10% tax rise on tobacco. Union leaders say the cuts target low-income Greeks. Shop owners have said they’ll also close their businesses for the day.
“I’ve been here for 20 years and I haven’t seen a situation like this for cigarettes before. The path ahead is only going to get worse,” said kiosk owner Giorgos Koukis.
State school teachers and hospital workers have already walked out; tomorrow’s nationwide strike is likely to shut down services across Greece, grounding flights and halting public transport.
The government is preparing legislation to push the austerity measures through parliament, where it has a 10-seat majority.
The Archbishop of Athens has said the Greek Orthodox Church will stand by the “battered Greek people”, urging “unity, strength and optimism”.