The presence of a neo-nazi Azov soldier during the address by Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy to the Greek Parliament triggered very strong reactions. Sharp criticism came not only from all opposition parties but also by former New Democracy Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.
After Zelenskyy’s speech, an Ukrainian man appeared on the teleconference screen saying that he was fighting with the far-right Azov Battalion. The man identified himself as Michael, an ethnic Greek fighting in Mariupol.
“My grandfather fought in World War II against the Nazis. He was injured three times. I was born in Mariupol and I take part in the defense of the city from the Russian Nazis. I will not talk about the difficulties we have in defense, participating in the Ukrainian defense through the Azov Battalion. This is my debt to my city, my debt as a man and I have to talk about the catastrophic conditions in which Greek Mariupol finds itself,” he told Greek Parliament.
His speech was followed by a short testimonial from another ethnic Greek of Ukraine who said he is fighting in Odessa.
Greek lawmakers applauded the Ukrainian president and then the hell broke out with opposition parties to blame Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis for the grand fiasco.
“What happened in the Greek Parliament was a big mistake,” said former ND PM Antonis Samaras (2012-2015)
Main opposition SYRIZA described the presence of Azov fighter as “unacceptable” and “a big mistake” and requested explanations from Parliament Speaker Kostas Tassoulas and whether he was aware of the fighter’s presence.
SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras posted on Twitter:
“The speech of members of the neo-Nazi Order Azov in the Greek Parliament is a provocation.
The absolute responsibility lies with the Prime Minister.
He talked about a historic day but it is a historical shame.
Solidarity with the Ukrainian people is given.
But the Nazis can not have a say in Parliament.”
Η ομιλία μελών του νεοναζιστικού Τάγματος Αζόφ στη Βουλή των Ελλήνων αποτελεί πρόκληση.
Την απόλυτη ευθύνη φέρει ο ΠΘ.
Μίλησε για ιστορική ημέρα αλλά είναι ιστορική ντροπή.
Η αλληλεγγύη στον ουκρανικό λαό είναι δεδομένη.
Οι ναζί όμως δεν μπορεί να έχουν το λόγο στη Βουλή.
— Αλέξης Τσίπρας – Alexis Tsipras (@atsipras) April 7, 2022
Communist party KKE that had right from the beginning had said it would not attend Zelenskyy’s address, tweeted:
“Even the shame was also ashamed oday in the parliament and the Zelenski speech, with the NATO-arc parties applauding the Nazis of the Azov Battalion because that is what NATO instructions and commitments require. Absolute justification for the attitude of the KKE!”
Ντράπηκε και η ντροπή σήμερα στη #βουλή και την ομιλία #Ζελένσκι, με τα κόμματα του ΝΑΤΟϊκού τόξου να χειροκροτάνε τους ναζί του τάγματος Αζόφ, επειδή αυτό επιβάλλουν οι ΝΑΤΟϊκές οδηγίες και δεσμεύσεις. Απόλυτη δικαίωση για τη στάση του ΚΚΕ!
— Γραφείο Τύπου της ΚΕ του ΚΚΕ (@gt_kke) April 7, 2022
Τhe Parliament group representative of MeRA25 posted:
“Today in the #Parliament, President #Zelenski insulted the parliament. A soldier of the Azov battalion was given the step, he was applauded by ND, SYRIZA & KINAL.
Our solidarity is ONLY with the Ukrainian people and not with the far right enduring its struggle.”
Σήμερα στην #Βουλή ο Πρόεδρος #Ζελενσκι προσέβαλλε το κοινοβούλιο. Δόθηκε βήμα σε στρατιώτη του τάγματος Αζόφ όποιος καταχειροκροτήθηκε από ΝΔ, ΣΥΡΙΖΑ & ΚΙΝΑΛ.
Η αλληλεγγύη μας είναι ΜΟΝΟ προς τον Ουκρανικό λαό και όχι σε ακροδεξιούς που υπομονεύουν τον αγώνα τους!#Ουκρανια
— Κλέων Γρηγοριάδης (@k_grigoriadis) April 7, 2022
Leader of nationalist Elliniki Lysi (Greek Solution) Kyriakos Velopoulos said “the legitimation of the Nazis is an indelible image of shame for the Greek Parliament. ND, SYRIZA and KINAL allowed the transformation of the cradle of democracy into a defender of Nazi atrocity, on the black anniversary of the 81 years since the Nazi attacked Greece.”
MPs of KINAL/PASOK expressed their dissatisfaction and surprise at the message by the Azov member and demand explanations from the Parliament Speaker. They blame him for allowing speeches to be delivered at the Palriament by people who, as they note, had no institutional authority to deliver one in the context of the “address by the President of Ukraine.”
According to reporters, the Parliament authorities investigate the issue.
Now many Greeks wonder on social media why Zelenskyy who already addressed the parliaments of several countries and was well prepared chose to present members of the neo-Nazi Azov here.
Later on Thursday and under the weight of immense pressure government spokesman Giannis Oikonou stated that
the inclusion in Zelenskyy’s address of a message by a member of the Azov battalion was mistaken and ill-advised.”