Mini furor over different crowd numbers thrown out for Sunday's 'fYRoM name issue' rally

Monday, 05 February 2018 12:17

The post-fYRoM 'name issue' rally furor in Greece on Monday revolved around how many people attended the protest in central Athens a day earlier, with the relevant public order minister insisting that police estimates of 140,000 are correct, whereas a ruling SYRIZA deputy put the figure at half a million to 560,000.

Former deputy foreign minister Dimitris Mardas, speaking to the Skai television station on Monday morning, said he consulted with land surveyors, who calculated the covered space of the protest rally at 160,000 square meters, with each corresponding meter containing 3.2 to 3.5 people, on average, as he said.

Organizers claimed a crowd exceeding one million.

Mardas' estimate clashes with Minister Nikos Toskas' insistence on 140,000 people, a figure used by other top government officials a day earlier to paint the mass rally as a failure, compared to earlier forecasts of "millions of demonstrators" on central Syntagma Square.

Toskas, a retired army officer and former socialist PASOK cadre before switching to more radical leftist SYRIZA before 2015, holds an alternate minister's portfolio called "citizens protection".

In his own comments to a breakfast-time current affairs program, Toskas said the "number is accurate, and in no way is related to political expediency. It's a number calculated by the (police) services..." he said, in defending the lower crowd estimate.

Asked about video footage of the rally shown by Greek Police (EL.AS) with a time and date stamp showing "Jan. 1", he blamed "incorrect settings" on the camera used to shoot the footage.