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Ioannis Sakkaros: The Greek leader of “Yellow Vests” protests in Germany

Ioannis Sakkaros is 26 years old and Greek. He is a driver of a diesel vehicle and very angry. He is still relatively unknown. That could change. Every week he leads more protesters to the streets of Stuttgart, in South-West Germany. Sakkaros is the leader of the German “Yellow Vests,” movement.

A movement aim to revolt against a government decision to ban the driving of diesel vehicles for the sake of climate change .

By and large, Germans are not as rowdy as their neighbors in France, but they are as touchy about their cars and the affordability of driving, noted German economic daily handelblatt. So even in well-behaved Germany, angry drivers are beginning to take to the streets to protest the ban.

Several hundred people attended a demonstration in Stuttgart last Saturday, as the city that is home to Mercedes-Benz and Porsche became one of the first to enforce a driving ban this month due to pollution.

Driving ban opponent Sakkaros expects massive inflow for his diesel demonstrations and with the growth of a supraregional protest movement on German roads. In other German cities such as Erfurt and Munich demos were already in the planning, said Sakkaros the German Press Agency. Any city affected by driving bans should get up.

Sakkaros told he hopes the demonstrations will grow into a protest movement, as against the controversial S21 rail project. In his opinion, the citizens in the diesel debate have much more reason to go out on the street. The S21 station, which is currently being built for billions of euros, is not pointless, but ensures better travel times and benefits the environment. With the diesel ban, however, people are much more directly affected.

The 26-year-old Porsche employee has organized demos against driving bans in Stuttgart since the beginning of January, when the local government put the ban into force.

Sakkaros expressed doubts about the EU limit of 40 micrograms of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) per cubic meter of air and the location of the measuring points. “It’s not confirmed that anyone fell dead because of nitrogen oxides.” Sakkaros said.

He drives a 14-year-old diesel Citroen Euro 4. “I am affected by the ban, I cannot accept it,” he told Greek news agency amna. He goes to work by train, and he is obliged to use his car twice a week. He won;t be able to use his car as of April when the ban will be implemented.

“They tell us to buy a new car, but with what money? I don;t think so…” he said during an interview with a popular magazine at German state TV. “The government was sleeping for years and now asks the people to pay for the mistakes it has made.”

There are approximately 80,000 diesel vehicles alone in Stuttgart.

He lives on a main road in the west of Stuttgart, “the quality of the air in the city is getting better,” he said.

Larger rallies may be in store as the Free Democrats have called for a protest on February 9.

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