By Andrew Lee
on September 8, 2020
Last updated: September 12, 2020

“Greeks for the Fatherland": Ilias Kasidiaris and Greece’s New Far-Right Party

[This article was originally published on September 5, 2020, by CovertAction Magazine, and is republished here with kind permission by the editor.]

A new neo-Nazi party, “Greeks for the Fatherland,” has formed in Greece under the leadership of former Golden Dawn (GD) leader Ilias Kasidiaris as the infamous GD Party begins to fade.

Serious fissures in GD began in July 2019 when GD failed to enter the Greek parliament in elections. At the time, Ioannis Lagos, a former Member of the European Parliament, left the party and went over to the far-right ELASYN1 party.

In April 2015, 69 members of the GD including leader Nikolaos Michaloliakis had been put on trial for participation in a criminal organization linked to 100 violent assaults and murder.

This trial is still ongoing and has been repeatedly subjected to delays in part because of the legal strategy of the GD, and because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Under the current unfavorable circumstances, a former MP from GD, Ilias Kasidiaris, demonstrated his ambitions by calling for an open assembly of GD in 2020 in an effort to restructure the organization and take it over. Despite the failure of his attempted intra-party coup, he was the only modestly successful GD candidate in the municipal elections of 2019; as a candidate for mayor of Athens, he came in 4th with a remarkable 10.54% of the vote.2

Who is Ilias Kasidiaris?

Kasidiaris was born in Athens in 1980 and possesses a degree from the Agricultural University of Athens. During his military service he was stationed in Chios island in the Special Forces 1st Raider Amphibious Brigade. He has been one of the longest-term members of GD despite his young age. In 2007 he was part of an infamous “Attack Battalion” of GD against university students but in the subsequent trial of this attack in 2013, he was acquitted of the assault charges. As a member of the “Old Guard” of GD, he was training the paramilitary structures of the party beginning in 2002 and has participated in meetings with the German neo-Nazis of the National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD) in various festivals, such as the 2005 “Rock for the Fatherland” underground festival in Athens.3 Since then he has written many articles defending Adolf Hitler and Nazism. He is also a Holocaust denier. During his tenure as MP in the Greek Parliament, he read fragments into the record of the fake “Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” thus exposing his anti-Semitism.

 In 2012, Kasidiaris celebrated with other GD members the pagan Winter Solstice in Greece, holding a Wehrmacht flag (Reichkriegsfahne) while posing with the famous Nazi salute.

The lead photo for this dispatch was retrieved from his cellphone by Greek authorities during the GD trials in 2018. Later, Kasidiaris claimed that this photo was photo-shopped but he failed to convince the jury. It is worth noting that he also bears a swastika tattoo on his left arm. In a bizarre attempt to avoid any connections to the symbol of the Third Reich, Kasidiaris claims it is an ancient Greek symbol of eternity.4

Kasidiaris was also responsible for xenophobic pogroms against immigrants in Athens during a protest organized by GD in May 2011. According to Kasidiaris in his plea during the GD trials, he stated that it was a protest organized by civilians and not by GD, although 30 members of GD were arrested on that same day.5

It is evident that Kasidiaris was responsible for the paramilitary training of the GD “Attack Battalions” during 2011 and 2012 when many attacks took place against immigrants in Piraeus and Athens.6 The truth is that not only was he responsible for these attacks but he has also mentioned in public speeches that the GD has a paramilitary structure.

During the elections of June 2012 GD managed to enter the Greek Parliament for the first time with 400,000 (6.92%) votes.7 Kasidiaris was elected as MP and, during his first televised debate in the ANT1 private channel against Liana Kanelli of the Greek Communist Party (KKE) and Rena Dourou of SYRIZA, main opposition party, he physically assaulted both of them while on air.8 He slapped Kanelli on the face multiple times and then he fled the police and justice for three days. In Greece—cynically—it was openly debated whether this action was right or wrong and Kasidiaris was cheered online by thousands of viewers. In the aftermath of the assaults many witnesses claimed that he had threatened the ANT1 channel, along with various workers including the host of the show, Nikos Papadakis. The trial of the attack commenced in 2015 under charges of intentional violence and the accusations only grew after rapper Pavlos Fyssas’ assassination in September 2013 at the hands of GD member Giorgos Roupakias.

Kasidiaris has pending accusations from the Greek Supreme Court and the Justice Ministry since 2017 when he physically attacked the then MP of the right wing “New Democracy” party, Nikos Dendias, who is the current Foreign Minister of Greece. Apart from this accusation, he has been charged with directing the “Attack Battalions” of GD during the years 2007-2012 when many crimes were committed, including the homicide of Afghan immigrant Sahzad Lukeman.

There were two elections in 2015 as the fragile government of Syriza was in crisis: in January and September. Kasidiaris was a candidate in both: He was reelected as an MP in the Greek Parliament during the elections of January 2015 and in the second elections of September 2015 when GD received 6.3% and 7% of the vote, respectively.9 Nevertheless, GD’s “success story” did not last long since the trials commenced in that same year and many of its top members and MPs lost their benefits or were imprisoned for 18 months.

Meanwhile, Kasidiaris openly tried to replace GD “Fuhrer” Nikolaos Michaloliakos as leader of the party, since his popularity only seemed to grow among the voters and supporters of GD. During the years 2015-2019, he attempted to distance himself from his neo-Nazi past and indeed tried to steer the party to a more “moderate” position against the will of Michaloliakos.

Although Kasidiaris attacked the left- and right-wing parties in Greece, he maintained contacts with prominent far-right politicians of the right-wing “New Democracy” party. In 2012, he had a secret contact with the Chief Secretary of the right-wing government of Antonis Samaras (2012-2015), Panagiotis Mpaltakos. The latter promised Kasidiaris a smooth trial of GD in exchange for political support in the parliament. The video leaked in 2014 and Mpaltakos was forced to resign from the government. Under pressure from public opinion, the GD trials commenced in 2015.

Kasidiaris’s rupture with Golden Dawn

After the failure of GD and its subsequent electoral defeat in the elections of 2019, Kasidiaris distanced himself from the leadership of the party.

As a consequence, with the pending result of the GD trial, he worked for an open assembly of the party in order to propose his aims for 2019-2020 structural changes. In a letter sent to the leadership in January 2020 and exposed on May 18,10 he proclaimed that a successor to Nikolaos Michaloliakos should be appointed and that the person with the most votes in recent elections, meaning himself, should be the new President. As a second point, he proposed that the position of Secretary General be abolished, thereby strengthening the position of President. As a third point, he implied that Nikolaos Michaloliakos should be the honorary President of the movement, since he contributed to the creation of the party and managed to lead GD into the vanguard of the far-right nationalistic European movements. He also proposed returning to the use of organized “Attack Battalions” in the streets, a practice that was abandoned after the assassination of Pavlos Fyssas. Lastly, he demanded that the term neo-Nazi be abolished in favor of “Greek Nationalism” as the dominant ideology in the organization. He also denounced the GD structure as nepotistic, since all of the party’s key positions belonged to the Michaloliakos family.10

“Greeks for the Fatherland” party

Following his January 2020 letter and the rejection of his proposals, Kasidiaris announced on YouTube that he would form a new political party. The political party, formed on June 4, was named “Greeks for the Fatherland” and, not surprisingly, has a structure over which Ilias Kasidiaris presides. The announcement of the central committee of the party took place on June 20 and it includes ex-militaries, medics, and University professors. As for the party’s ideology, Kasidiaris explicitly expressed that it has nothing to do with neo-Nazi or fascist ideology and that the party’s principles revolve around patriotism and nationalism. However, this is merely a smokescreen, an attempt by Kasidiaris to disassociate from neo-Nazi ideology due to the impending verdict of the GD trial.

Left: “Greeks for the Fatherland.” The statue of Leonidas King of the Spartans, in Thermopylae, Greece. [Source: wikipedia.org]

Right: The Symbol of Lega Nord. Note the similarities of the symbolism between the two political parties, including the colors. [Source: wikipedia.org]

Kasidiaris, in his announcement, stated that European and, thus, Greek civilization are under threat from “illegal immigrants” who will Islamize the region. His positions are rather similar to the Identitarian movements of Europe, which promote the creation of white ethno-states. The influence from the Lega Nord, an Italian party adopting strong positions against illegal immigration of Muslims combined with populist measures, are also visible in the symbol of his party.

The party´s political positions include:

  1. The resolution of the demographical question of Greece following Victor Orban´s example in Hungary by outlawing abortions and same-sex marriages;
  2. Definite expulsion of non-documented immigrants;
  3. Independent economic policy;
  4. Subsidization of private business and foreign private investment in the Greek economy;
  5. A dogma of geo-political and geo-strategical advance of Greece and collision with Turkey;
  6. Exploitation of natural gas reserves;
  7. Zero tolerance of criminal activities;
  8. Political purges against the ruling parties; and
  9. “Greek education” based on Christian Orthodox and nationalist principles.11

It is noteworthy that the current far-right party “Greek Solution” has similar positions but has not managed to influence the actual Greek government or gain more popularity. Furthermore, independent from the pending GD trials verdict, Kasidiaris, unlike other political figures of the Greek far right, is very popular, especially with young voters who are angry and disillusioned with the mainstream parties. This could prove decisive in future parliamentary elections in Greece. According to two recent polls, by Pulce RC and Zougla, the party already seems to be ranked first among the extra-parliamentarian parties, with 2.4% during the first month of its creation.12 The entrance to the Greek parliament requires 3%.

Last but not least, Kasidiaris has put forth his ambitions in a period where the far right in Greece seems to have essentially disappeared from the political spectrum. It is time for deep reflection since his popularity remains very high. The results of the GD trial will determine if it is to have a second life or disappear like fascist leaders of the past.

United States Policy in Greece

The U.S. Ambassador, Geoffrey Pyatt, was posted to Athens on October 24, 2016, immediately after completing his assignment in Ukraine where, as Ambassador from July 30, 2013, to August 18, 2016, he supervised the neo-Nazi-led coup in Maidan bringing that country further under NATO control. As pointed out in an earlier dispatch on Pyatt’s activities in Greece,

Pyatt oversaw the fall of the Tsipras government and the July 8, 2019 emergence of the openly pro-American government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Mitsotakis promptly appointed Panayiotis Kontoleon a former security officer of the U.S. embassy in Athens, whose father had also worked in the U.S. Embassy, as head of the Greek Intelligence Services (EYP). Panayiotis Kontoleon was an official of the British-based global security company G4S which had provided security for Pyatt’s U.S. Embassy in Athens, as well as other U.S. embassies around the world.13

The U.S. is rapidly augmenting its already large military footprint across the country. Under Pyatt’s supervision, Greece has been integrating its military, political, and economic operations with Cyprus and Israel, and along with Egypt has been moving to dominate the Eastern Mediterranean.14

The history of the bloody instrumentalization of the Far Right in the “cradle of democracy,”—from the Truman Doctrine and post-WWII Civil War through the fascist rule by the Papadopoulos “Colonels” (April 21, 1967 to July 24, 1974)—is well known to CAM readers. The emerging elements of the current fascist movements are a direct, linear legacy of those U.S. covert operations.

The leader and founder of the GD who is currently on trial, Nikolaos Michaloliakos, had been handpicked to lead a far-right wing youth group by George Papadopolous, the Colonel installed in power with the support of the CIA in the late 1960s. Pyatt has claimed not to want to associate with the GD, however, he should be well aware of both the American role in helping birth this monster, and how American efforts to undermine the left in Greece will contribute to its growth.


Andrew Lee is an independent researcher and historian who studies the far-right parties in Greece and the wider region of the Balkans.