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Police clash with Athens protesters as record turnout on Greek demonstrations

Reuters

Police and protesters clashed in Athens and other Greek cities on Wednesday, as record numbers turned out to protest at new austerity measures to be discussed by parliament Thursday.

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Clouds of teargas hung over the centre of the Greek capital after groups of youths had thrown Molotov cocktails at the police and attacked a steel barricade in front of the parliament building and other targets.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

There were also clashes in Thessalonoki and protests in other cities, including Patras and Herklion.

Police, who claimed that 125,000 people turned out on the protests at the start of a two-day general strike, said that participation was the highest in a decade, while unions put the turnout at 200,000 in Athens alone.

The government says the legislation is vital to convince the European Union crisis summit on Sunday to release further loans. It expects to pass it on Thursday, although some MPs from the ruling Pasok have threatened to oppose an amendment to collective wage agreements.

Former labour minister Louka Katseli is among them and could be expelled from the party’s parliamentary group, which would reduce it to 153 MPs out of 300.

Elsewhere in Europe:

  • Unions in Portugal have called a strike for 24 November.
  • French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were set to discuss the eurozone crisis by telephone Wednesday.
  • European stock markets rallied on Wednesday morning after reports that France and Germany will ass two trilline euros to the 440-billion-euro eurozone rescue fund.

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