Mapping the Greek Far Right
Following the criminal prosecution of Golden Dawn and the conviction of its leadership, the landscape of the far right has been in a state of disarray. Golden Dawn has now been convicted before the courts as a criminal organisation, after it had already collapsed electorally, having lost its parliamentary representation in the summer of 2019, but also internally, being split between the parent organisation of Nikos Michaloliakos and the imitations launched by the previous Golden Dawn deputy leaders, Ioannis Lagos and Ilias Kasidiaris.
The Golden Dawn audience (beyond that of Kyriakos Velopoulos, whose Greek Solution party entered parliament, albeit with smaller percentages) is sought after many far-right parties and formations that, in most cases, range from extremely small to single-person organisations and are often communicating vessels, sometimes announcing mergers and pacts and sometimes splits.
The small Nazi and fascist organisations that – unlike the parent organisation – exist exclusively under the cloak of illegality and try to fill the gap left by the Golden Dawn assault squads, which were withdrawn due to the trial, are similarly communicating vessels.
Here we map this landscape, recording the right-wing initiatives that have been generally active in the past decade. We have separated this landscape into Golden Dawn and its offshoots, which extend to the small extremist organisations of Nazi and fascist orientation, and the parties and formations of the traditional far right.
Despite the existence of all these forms, the fragmentation of the far right after the revelations that arose in the Golden Dawn trial and the fact that part of this ideological space is filled by New Democracy, the ruling liberal-conservative party, a void remains in the far right of the political spectrum that does not preclude the emergence of other aspiring contenders.
Golden Dawn and its offshoots
Golden Dawn was founded in 1980 as a closed national-socialist education hub. It published an openly Nazi and pro-Hitler magazine under the title Golden Dawn, the first ten issues of which had the circular swastika on the cover. The swastika was then replaced as the official symbol of the organisation by the heraldic “wolf trap” (Wolfsangel), namely the emblem of the Waffen-SS that committed the massacres in Distomo and Kleisoura during the Second World War. Finally, the meander was adopted, that is, an ersatz version of the swastika, which goes hand in hand with Golden Dawn’s general effort to conceal its ideology while remaining fanatically Nazi.
Nazism is also the motive behind Golden Dawn’s criminal activity that began after 1987 and targeted those who, according to this ideology, are classified as “subhumans”, such as those it considers its political opponents or immigrants. Golden Dawn is structured according to the model of Hitler’s SA, with a vertical hierarchy, absolute discipline to superiors and, of course, operating on the basis of the “Führerprinzip”, that is, Hitler’s “leader principle”. All its criminal attacks are, thus, carried out in the context of the central orders from its leader, Nikos Michaloliakos. A number of Golden Dawn officials have been convicted before the courts, the most characteristic being its deputy leader, Antonios Androutsopoulos (Periandros), for the attempted murder of Dimitris Kousouris in 1998, and two Golden Dawn members for attempted murder in an attack on the Antipnoia social space, in Petralona, Athens, in 2008.
In 2012, Golden Dawn, closely following closely the strategy of its role model, Hitler, managed to enter parliament aiming at its “destruction”, as Michaloliakos had proclaimed. From that point, the organisation was emboldened, further escalating its criminal activity, resulting, in September 2013, in the attempted murder of communist PAME trade unionists and, a few days later, the murder of Pavlos Fyssas. What the organisation did not expect was for all these criminal cases to be linked and for its leadership to be put on trial – after decades of immunity –on charges of directing a criminal organisation. It did not expect to fail to enter parliament in the 2019 elections, while after the collapse and the internal divisions, Michaloliakos, trying to stand on his own two feet, openly reembraced his Nazi rhetoric. The trial before the Athens Three-Member Criminal Appeal Court began on 20 April 2015 and ended in October 2020, with the first-instance conviction, which ruled that Golden Dawn was a criminal organisation under the guise of a “political party” and convicted its leader and its full leadership core for directing a criminal organisation.
Unaligned Meandrian Nationalists / Combat 18 Hellas
In essence, these are two names for the same Nazi group, as appears from the public information in the case file against them. It is a small marginal organisation that tried to imitate Golden Dawn, copying its Nazi formation, its paramilitary action, its hierarchical structure, its slogans, and even its symbol, the meander, which is also used in its name. But in contrast to the large organisation that conceals its ideology and tries to cover up its criminal activities under the guise of a “legitimate political party”, the Unaligned Meandrian Nationalists / Combat 18 Hellas (AME/C18) publicly espoused Nazism and acted exclusively under the cloak of illegality, maintaining the anonymity of their members. In fact, they did not miss the opportunity to praise Periandros (Antonios Androutsopoulos), the former Golden Dawn deputy leader, whom Michaloliakos abandoned after his conviction for the attempted murder of Dimitris Kousouris. After all, members of AME/C18 were drawn directly from Golden Dawn.
At first, they acted only as AME. The name Combat 18 Hellas first appeared in March 2015, when the organisation claimed responsibility for the desecration with swastikas of the Pavlos Fyssas memorial at the murder scene in Keratsini, Piraeus, while they also stated that they were behind the Molotov cocktail arson attack on the self-managed social space Pasamontana in Korydallos, Piraeus, on 24 February 2015. Since then, AME/C18 claimed responsibility for a series of attacks against and social spaces, desecrations of Jewish cemeteries while they have systematically targeted the Roma community. Their criminal activity escalated in June 2017 in Menidi, northern Attica, after the murder of an 11-year-old student by a stray bullet during celebrations marking the end of the school year. This set the ground for collectively blaming the Roma community for the death and launching racist attacks on Roma people. By escalating their activities, they tried to take advantage of the absence of the Golden Dawn assault squads, which the party was forced to withdraw due to the trial.
As for the choice of the name Combat 18, it is an imitation of the international neo-Nazi organisation Combat 18, founded in 1992 in Britain and which has been involved in many murderous attacks, arsons and terrorist acts. Its name references Adolf Hitler, since the number 18 symbolises the position of his initials in the alphabet (A = 1, H = 8). The first admirer of the international terrorist organisation in Greece is no other than Golden Dawn, who presented Combat 18 in its party youth magazine, Counterattack, in 2001, in an article signed by Golden Dawn’s then theoretician and fanatical Nazi Giorgos Misiakas (Mastoras). The AME/C18 Nazi group collapsed when its members were arrested by police in March 2018.
Another Nazi group among the “orphans” of Golden Dawn, which is confirmed by the leading role that Alexandros Tzoulios plays in it. Tzoulios is known for his activities as a key official in the local Golden Dawn branch in Piraeus and was a local council candidate in Piraeus in 2014 alongside former Golden Dawn MP Nikos Kouzilos. Apella itself stated on its website that it was officially founded in 2016 and it is another admirer of Periandros Androutsopoulos, with its members stating that they were “inspired” by the speech given by the former Golden Dawn deputy leader in Larissa, Thessaly, in March 2015. Apella openly praises Hitler and the Third Reich, making use of well-known Nazi slogans of Golden Dawn, and also had links with the Unaligned Meandrian Nationalists. Its downfall came with the arrests of its members – including Tzoulios – in January 2018 for the arson attack on Favela, a free social space in Piraeus, on 29 August 2017. In addition to Apella flyers, Golden Dawn leaflets were found in the homes of those arrested. Few months earlier (on 2 April 2017) Favela came under another attack during which the perpetrators painted swastikas and Celtic crosses on the wall of the building. AME/C18 claimed responsibility at the time. The second attack was committed by Apella and the third, the most recent and murderous (on 25 February 2018), was staged by Golden Dawn.
Autonomous Nationalists was another Nazi group that operated at the start of the decade with its members coming from Golden Dawn. In January 2010, 50 neo-Nazis, wearing hoods and helmets, launched a violent attack with poles and on against an antifascist rally in Panormou, Athens, causing serious injuries to three people. The Athens Three-Member Criminal Appeal Court tried the Autonomous Nationalists. However, of the 32 defendants, only 8 were convicted. Nevertheless, this ruling effectively spelled the end of the activities of the group.
A hard-line Nazi organisation directly linked to Golden Dawn, with its members photographed alongside well-known figures of the great parent Nazi organisation. ProPatria is one of the groups that is cautious enough to act under the cloak of illegality, trying to fill the gap of the Golden Dawn assault squads, which were withdrawn due to the trial. In 2018 members of ProPatria were among the Nazis who raised the “black sun” (Schwarze Sonne) flag, one of the darkest symbols of the Nazi period, at the Olympic Athletic Centre in Athens.
Greek Socialist Resistance (ESA)
Another Nazi organisation that admires Periandros Androutsopoulos. Similarly, it does not hide its national socialist ideology, which it projects through its website, but also by painting swastikas on walls, such as at the School of Philosophy of the University of Athens, in October 2018. The “S” it uses in its name is, of course, inspired by the symbol of Hitler’s SS, while the name itself refers to the Special Investigation Department of the Greek Military Police (EAT-ESA) during the junta. It had a strong presence in November 2018 during the nationalist-inspired occupations on the occasion of the name dispute over North Macedonia, turning schools, where they distributed leaflets, into a field of action.
Krypteia was active in 2017-2019 and began enhancing its visibility in the fascist space by calling press offices in order to claim responsibility for a series of attacks, most notably the one on the home of young Amir in November 2017, in Dafni, Athens, a few days after a he had won the draw to carry the flag for his school at the parade on 28 October marking Greece’s entry into the Second World War. Only one defendant (Panagiotis P.) was brought to trial for Krypteia’s activity. He was convicted for an arson attack on an Afghani association, for an attempted arson attack on a squat in Koukaki, Athens, and for making threats against human rights organisations such as Amnesty International and the Hellenic League for Human Rights, as well as against the Municipality of Tripoli and elsewhere. In court, the connection of the defendant with the Greek Socialist Resistance, whose leader and members had appeared to support him in court, was proved while it turned out that Panagiotis P. was also a speaker at a Nazi event organised by Krypteia.
The Nazi formation of Stefanos Gekas, an old Golden Dawn member and deputy leader of Nikos Michaloliakos, who openly espouses Adolf Hitler. In January 2017, staking a share in the National Socialist space, he incited acts of racist violence against refugee accommodation facilities, circulating a vast amount of leaflets on the streets and distributing them on cars in Kalamaki, Alimos and Paleo Faliro, Athens. In those leaflets, he referred to refugees as “illegal settlers” and unleashed racist hatred against them. On the back cover there was a map that recorded the refugee accommodation facilities throughout Greece and called on “patriots everywhere to quickly organise and act in order to deal with these developments that are most unfavourable for the homeland”.
National Popular Consciousness (Elasyn)
In July 2019, Ioannis Lagos, MEP, Golden Dawn Piraeus regional organisation chief, a close associate of Nikos Michaloliakos and a leading member of Golden Dawn, who was involved in all the murderous and bloody actions of the organisation investigated by the Athens Three-Member Criminal Appeal Court, suddenly announced his withdrawal from Golden Dawn. Other leading members of Golden Dawn, such as Giorgos Germenis, Panagiotis Iliopoulos and Nikos Kouzilos, followed him; he also kept for himself his salary from the European Parliament, thus demonstrating the decay of the Nazi organisation. He then announced that he was creating a new “body” under the National Popular (that is, National Socialist) Consciousness (Elasyn). And remaining loyal to Hitler, he chose the date of 9 November for his “founding declaration”, coinciding with Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch of 1923 and the date of the infamous “Night of the Broken Glass” (9 November 1938), the deadly anti-Jewish pogrom ordered by Hitler and which was the first step towards the Holocaust. Of late, Lagos has been engaged in the reproduction of all kinds of conspiracy theories on the occasion of the COVID-19 pandemic, while he has tried to reach out to church circles. He is now convicted of directing a criminal organisation.
Greeks for the Fatherland
In May 2020, Ilias Kasidiaris also abandoned his leader, when he realised that Michaloliakos would never pass the leadership of the organisation on to him. He also recruited other members of the organisation, such as the fervent Nazi theorist Giorgos Misiakas (Mastoras) and Konstantinos Barbarousis, completing the image of the breakup of the Golden Dawn. The name that the former deputy leader chose for his own party was Greeks for the Fatherland. Kasidiaris attempted to denounce Nazism, wanting his new formation to appear as something ostensibly different from Golden Dawn, but he is still the one who publicly displays Nazi symbols, such as the Celtic cross, and Nazi slogans, like the phrase attributed to Goebbels “we will return and the earth will shake”, but also the swastika tattoo he has had on his arm all these years, and which he displays in the main photo on the cover of his book titled Political Prison Diary. He is now back in jail after being convicted of directing a criminal organisation.
Kasidiaris' YouTube channel is the main means of propagating his positions. During his imprisonment, more than 50 videos have been posted on it. See also our research about indications of preferential treatment for the imprisoned Golden Dawn members: https://simeio.org.gr/en/news/golden-dawn-from-parliament-to-prison-indications-of-preferential-treatment/
In April 2018, the Golden Dawn ship was abandoned by its then MEP, retired general Eleftherios Synadinos, who announced that he was resigning from the organisation and continuing as an independent MEP. Synadinos’ independence exacerbated the internal crisis caused by the Golden Dawn trial to such an extent that it forced Nikos Michaloliakos to organise an event in the Athens branch and to get all the organisation’s leading members to (verbally) attack their former MEP from the balcony of the organisation’s offices. The formation launched by Synadinos was called the Patriotic Radical Union (Patrie), which is also supported by former Golden Dawn MP Despina Sveroni. In the 2019 European elections, Patrie cooperated with the Popular Orthodox Rally (Laos) of Giorgos Karatzaferis but did poorly.
Popular Greek Patriotic Union (Lepen)
The withdrawal of Christos Rigas from Golden Dawn was part of the first wave of internal crises caused by the trial of the Nazi organisation. On 21 May 2015, Rigas, a regional councillor in Western Greece and member of the Golden Dawn central committee, resigned, challenging the Golden Dawn leadership, just one month after the trial began. He founded Lepen, collaborating with the former Golden Dawn deputy leader Dimitris Zafeiropoulos (convicted of participating in a Golden Dawn attack on members of the leftist organisation OSE in Kypseli, Athens, in April 1996). In February 2019, Lepen merged with Synadinos’ Patrie, before collaborating with Lagos’ Elasyn and finally turning to Ilias Kasidiaris.
Like-minded people consider him the “patriarch” of Greek national socialism. In 1965 he founded the neo-fascist 4 August Party” (K4A). The aim of K4A’s founders– as it turned out and given also its attempt to provide the colonels’ regime with an ideological guise – was to impose its national socialist beliefs on the radical right-wing groups and to reclaim the streets. According to their statements, they found a “moral supporter” in the face of the infamous deputy minister for security in the Metaxas dictatorship, Konstantinos Maniadakis.
K4A had a military organisational structure and it was later imitated, by Nikos Michaloliakos, who, like the first Golden Dawn members, sprang from Plevris’ organisation, which was the matrix of various far-right formations. From its very first issue, the party’s fortnightly newspaper August 4 clarified that it was inspired by “racial ideas” and its political purpose is “to abolish democratic ideas, [because] they are outdated and hinder the free development of the nation”. Plevris was the best man of leading coup member Ioannis Ladas and head of his private office, maintained a personal relationship with junta leader Papadopoulos, while he also taught at the Police Academy and in the general education section of the General Army Staff. Of course, the extreme pro-Hitler and antisemitic libel entitled Jews: The Whole Truth, which was promoted by Adonis Georgiadis (now a New Democracy minister), stands out from his writings. In 1999, Plevris formed Front Line in order to participate in the European elections in partnership with Golden Dawn, while in the national elections of 2000 Front Line collaborated with the Greek Front of Makis Voridis (now a New Democracy minister). Plevris was of course also a mentor of Giorgos Karatzaferis and his partner in Laos, while recently he even joined Lagos’ Elasyn party.
Zafeiropoulos was a deputy leader of Golden Dawn until 2007, when he was abandoned by Michaloliakos (common practice of the Golden Dawn leader) and resigned. He was convicted along with Haralambos Kousoumvris for a Golden Dawn attack on members of the leftist organisation OSE in Kypseli, Athens, in April 1996, while he was for many years the publisher of the pro-junta newspaper Eleftheros Kosmos. He was a candidate with Karatzaferis’ Laos in the 2012 elections, while after the launch by Rigas of Lepen (December 2015) he joined that party. He now leads the very marginal National Front of Manos Konstas, a former official of the National Political Union (EPEN), founded in 1984 by the jailed former dictator Papadopoulos, which Zafeiropoulos himself says he joined in 2012. In 2018, he was also a member of Lepen for a while.
The once close associate of former New Democracy leader and prime minister Antonis Samaras, Baltakos was forced to resign from the key post of government cabinet secretary when it was revealed that he maintained open communications with Ilias Kasidiaris and was advising Golden Dawn on how to vote in parliament. Since then, he has attempted to form a party several times, in the context of the mobility we have witnessed in recent years when it comes to the far right in targeting the supporters of the Nazi Golden Dawn. In 2015 he tried to establish a party Radical National Rally (Rizes) along with Vassilis Kapernaros, but it went ahead without Baltakos. In 2016, Baltakos formed National Unity along with Giorgos Karatzaferis and in 2018 launched another far-right party, under the name Force of Hellenism, this time in partnership with former Independent Greeks (Anel) MP Dimitris Kammenos. He left Kammenos in 2019 in order to participate in the European Parliament elections with Anel, which in the meantime had left the Syriza government and gone back to their extreme right-wing roots.
Popular Orthodox Rally (Laos)
The Popular Orthodox Rally is a creature born out of TV. Giorgos Karatzaferis systematically took advantage of his career in advertising companies and modelling schools, and especially his personal TV channel (granted to him since 1989 by New Democracy leader Konstantinos Mitsotakis) and the promotion he enjoyed from mainstream TV stations, in order to propagate his far-right views and to create his own televoters. In 2000, Kostas Karamanlis expelled him from New Democracy and on 14 September 2000, he announced the establishment of Laos. Konstantinos Plevris was a founding member, while in 2005 Laos included the Greek Front of Makis Voridis. Among the prominent party members were Adonis Georgiadis, Kyriakos Velopoulos and Thanos Plevris. In the prefectural elections of 2002, Karatzaferis managed to get a 14% share of the vote and to be elected prefectural councillor, having as party candidates four leading members of Golden Dawn, including Ilias Panagiotaros. In the European elections of 2004 Karatzaferis was elected MEP, in the national elections of 2007 Laos entered parliament for the first time and in the 2009 elections he stabilised his presence in the parliament. In 2010, Karatzaferis voted for the memorandum agreement with the country’s creditors and in 2011 Laos was central to the formation of the coalition government, alongside the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (Pasok) and New Democracy, led by Lucas Papademos. And somehow this resulted in Laos’ electoral collapse, a fact that could be not avoided given the change in his political stance to a pro-memorandum one in 2012, while it lost its most prominent members (Adonis Georgiadis, Makis Voridis, Thanos Plevris and others) to New Democracy, led by Antonis Samaras. Even Velopoulos joined New Democracy. After consecutive electoral failures in 2016, Karatzaferis and a former close associate of Samaras, Takis Baltakos, made an attempt to create a party they called National Unity in 2016. In 2019, Laos participated in the European elections in partnership with Patrie, led by former Golden Dawn MEP Eleftherios Synadinos. Shortly after their joint failure, Karatzaferis announced his resignation from the leadership of Laos.
After first joining Antonis Samaras’ New Democracy in May 2012, former Laos MP Kyriakos Velopoulos finally decided, in 2016, to follow the path of his former leader, Giorgos Karatzaferis, and form his own party, Greek Solution, which has many similarities to Laos. As a true student of Karatzaferis, Velopoulos, with undeclared resources, used minor TV channels to propagate his far-right positions and all sorts of conspiracy theories, to sell wax ointments, supposed therapeutic herbs and even alleged “handwritten letters of Jesus” as well as to create telesupporters. He constantly propagates a pro-Russian policy and openly promotes Putin’s views. Being true to the tactic of misleading the public, he endorsed a candidate in the 2019 European elections called “Frangos Emmanuel (Frangoulis)” to attract confused voters, who falsely believed they were voting for retired army general Frangoulis Frangos. However, he succeeded in entering the European Parliament and, after the 2019 national elections, the Greek Parliament, after drawing voters away from Golden Dawn, which found itself out of parliament. Earlier, in 2017, he tried to recruit former Golden Dawn leading member Nikos Michos. Their partnership was announced, but was cancelled within a few days, when Velopoulos felt Michos was questioning his primacy.
Independent Greeks–National Patriotic Alliance (Anel)
In 2011 Antonis Samaras removed PanosKammenos from the New Democracy parliamentary group after he did not cast a vote of confidence in the Papademos government, which had been formed to allow the EU bailout to proceed and prepare the February 2012 elections. In February 2012 he was expelled from New Democracy after voting against the second memorandum. Ten days later, Kammenos announced the founding of Anel – a party with a particular appeal for far-right conspiracy theories, as evidenced by the intra-party dialogue at its first conference in April 2013.
Kammenos was followed by other New Democracy MPs who had been expelled due to their opposition to the memorandum. In the double elections of 2012, Independent Greeks entered parliament, while in the period until the 2015 elections, there were intense internal party tensions and reshuffles, leading to the resignation of a series of MPs and officials and the joining of others. From 2015 to 2019, Anel participated in a coalition government with Syriza, from which they withdrew in January 2019, invoking their opposition to the forthcoming vote on the Prespa Agreement that resolved the dispute between Greece and North Macedonia regarding the name of the latter. Their parliamentary group began to haemorrhage and eventually fell to below five, the minimum required for recognition as a party group in parliament, causing its dissolution. In the 2019 European elections, Kammenos decided to return to his extreme right-wing origins and in this context, he included Takis Baltakos in his list of candidates for the European Parliament. After the party’s failure in the European elections, Kammenos announced that Anel would not contest the national elections.
The main quality of lawyer Failos Kranidiotis, known for his extreme right-wing fanaticism, is that he was a close associate of Antonis Samaras since the time of Political Spring, a party the latter founded in June 1993 after his withdrawal from New Democracy due to being dismissed as foreign minister over his hard-line stance on the Macedonia naming dispute, and the nationalist Network 21 group. He remained his close associate until much later when Samaras became prime minister for New Democracy. Kranidiotis’ inflammatory and provocative extreme right, racist and homophobic statements have occupied the news from time to time, eventually leading Kyriakos Mitsotakis to expel him from New Democracy in March 2016 after he called for immigration minister Ioannis Mouzalas to be executed. Two months later he announced the founding of his own party, which he named New Right. In 2019, he chose 21 April (the anniversary of the 1967 coup d’état) as the foundation date of the party. He ran in the 2019 European elections, receiving a mere 0.66%, and did not contest the national elections of the same year.
Christian Democratic Party of Greece
In July 2012 New Democracy MP Nikos Nikolopoulos resigned as deputy labour minister in the Samaras government after he demanded a renegotiation with the troika, while his criticism of the government led to his expulsion from New Democracy a month later. In 2013 he formed his own party, the Christian Democratic Party of Greece, and in the 2014–2015 he also joined Anel. In August 2014 he provoked a public outcry with his extreme homophobic comments against the prime minister of Luxembourg, whom he called a “fag”, even claiming homosexuality was a “psychopathological diversion” and drawing parallels between same-sex partnership and “bestiality”. In the 2019 regional elections, Nikolopoulos was a candidate for mayor in Patras, where he managed to be elected as municipal councillor, while in the national elections he ran with Vassilis Leventis and his idiosyncratic Union of Centrists, with poor electoral results.
Assembly of Greeks
The Assembly of Greeks (ESY) was the instigator of a major fraud that managed to attract “followers” since 2015, making them take an oath to Zeus and the 12 Olympian gods, the “sacred oath of the warrior”, in a cult-like atmosphere and mainly to admire the imaginary “great nation saviour” Artemis Sorras. Sorras initially peddled an infamous theory concerning the Banque d’Orient, a financial institution that merged with National Bank of Greece in 1936 in order to save its depositors from taking a haircut on their savings. Sorras claimed he owns “600 billion euros” in Banque d’Orient shares, enough to repay Greece’s debt. Sorras emerged through Greek trash TV stations and managed to form an extreme right-wing organisation, employing conspiracy theories, racism, homophobia, hatred of people with disabilities and, of course, antisemitism as the main elements in his rhetoric speech. After he and his wife were convicted in March 2017 of criminal embezzlement, Sorras went on the run. Arrested in June 2018, he was convicted in December 2019 by the Three-Member Criminal Appeal Court for attempted fraud against the state. In the meantime, he had managed, from his prison cell, to run as a candidate with the Assembly of Greeks in both the European elections of May and the national elections of July. The convictions against him also include a conviction by Irakleio single-member Misdemeanour Court for spreading fake news in relation to inciting citizens to submit out-of-court injunctions to tax offices, banks and insurance funds.