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article imageGreek mayor hospitalised after 'far-right' attack

By AFP     May 20, 2018 in World

The mayor of Greece's second city Thessaloniki was hospitalised early Sunday after an assault by suspected far-right members at a rally, officials said.

Yiannis Boutaris, 75, had to be escorted from the event on Saturday commemorating the massacre of Black Sea Greeks in Turkey during and after World War I when members of the crowd turned violent.

"They were hitting me everywhere. Kicks, punches, the lot," Boutaris, who was discharged from hospital on Sunday, told state agency ANA. "It was a despicable attack, but I am well."

Police on Sunday said they had detained two people in connection to the assault.

Footage from the event shows Boutaris initially being heckled. As he starts to leave, people start throwing objects at him and at one point he falls to the ground.

Some of the attackers then struck his car, smashing the rear window before it sped off.

The office of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said the attackers were "far-right thugs".

The incident was praised by the daughter of Greece's neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn leader, Ourania Michaloliakou, who accused Boutaris of being "anti-Greek".

"Bravo to each and every person who did their duty in Thessaloniki today. Respect and a thousand bravo," Michaloliakou tweeted on Saturday.

A maverick politician, Boutaris has repeatedly angered hardliners in Greece with controversial statements on Macedonia, Turkey and Israel.

Among them is calling Kemal Ataturk, founder of the modern Turkish state and a hate figure in Greece, a "great leader".

He has also dismissed as "idiots" those opposing a compromise solution in Greece's longstanding name row with neighbouring Macedonia.

The incident was picked up by Turkish media.

Hurriyet daily noted that Boutaris has called Turks "brothers" and has proposed renaming a central street in Thessaloniki after Ataturk, who was born in the city in 1881 and still draws Turkish visitors there.

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