Greece: Journalist Kostas Vaxevanis arrested, over the notorious “Lagarde list” leak

Earlier this morning, Greek Police raided the house where the journalist Kostas Vaxevanis was residing, after he deliberately tweeted his location. A few hours later he was released while he is set to appear in court tomorrow.

Vaxevanis became known via his TV broadcast, Pandora’s box, where he revealed big scandals between Greek MPs and Church officials, criticizing, also, racism and police repression. In his weekly magazine, HOT DOC, published a list (the notorious “Lagarde list”), which contains 2,059 names of wealthy Greek citizens who are, possibly, responsible for tax evasion (business people, journalists, doctors, lawyers, and media notables), as they have declared income that does not justify the amount of money in their HSBC Swiss accounts.

A few hours after the publication, Athens prosecutors issued a warrant against Vaxevanis, who, in order to escape, moved temporarily to a friend’s house. According to New York Times:

Hot Doc said its version of the list matches the one that Christine Lagarde, then the French finance minister and now the head of the International Monetary Fund, had given her Greek counterpart in 2010 to help Greece crack down on rampant tax evasion as it was trying to steady its economy. The 2,059 people on the list are said to have had accounts in a Geneva branch of HSBC. […] The publication of the list is likely to exacerbate Greeks’ anger that their political leaders might have been reluctant to investigate the business elite, with whom they often have close ties, even as middle- and lower-class Greeks have struggled with higher taxes and increasingly ardent tax collectors.

The New York Times, also, reported that Vaxevanis was aware of his impending arrest.

The journalist has been accused for “violating privacy legislation”. Nonetheless, the news of his arrest have sparked massive reactions among ordinary Greek citizens who demand social justice, end of corruption and political impunity. Also, a petition page has been created in favour of dropping all charges against Vaxevanis, stating the following:

We call on the Greek authorities to cease all interference with press freedom and focus instead on holding accountable those who have enabled massive tax evasion by the prominent politically connected elite.

Hitherto, more than 12,000 signatures have already been amassed.

In the video above, Vaxevanis talks to “Pandora’s Box Show” just a few hours before being arrested.

Meanwhile, Greek people continue to struggle against the harsh economic depression as a result of IMF imposed austerity, and the attempts of the EU-backed regime to suspend basic democratic rights. (See also: MUTE, the visualization of an economic rape by Roarmag).

In Al Jazeera, Vaxevanis stated that he had not committed any wrongdoing. and accused authorities of trying to muzzle the Press. He also added the following:

The important thing is that a group of people – when Greece is starving – make a profit and try to create the Greece they want. […] Tomorrow in parliament they will vote to cut 100-200 from the Greek civil servant, the Greek worker while at the same time most of the 2,000 people on the list appear to be evading tax by secretly sending money to Switzerland.

The Italian La Republica assumed that instead of examining this “mysterious list” and identify those who evade taxes, secretly pulling their money in Swiss Bank Accounts, the Greek authorities were mobilized to arrest Vaxevanis who is doing exactly what the state should have done for years now.

The arrest of Vaxevanis is a further proof that the Greek government is seeking, by any means, to silence voices that challenge the rotten political establishment, while, at the same time, neo-Nazi groups and supporters of the fascist Golden Dawn party that have participated in numerous murderous attacks against immigrants and political opponents, remain unpunished.

A few weeks ago, fifteen anti-fascist protesters were arrested in Athens during a clash with supporters of the neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn. The incident became widely known by an article published on the Guardian. Their lawyer reports that they were tortured during their custody. A few days later, the forensic surgeon confirmed that physical violence was used against them. (See also: Golden Dawn party infiltrates Greece’s police, claims senior officer – video by Aris Chatzistefanou).

Today, also, was the anniversary of the Ohi Day, where in every city parades take place to commemorate the rejection of the ultimatum made by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini on October 28, 1940. Like last year, national parades were seen as a chance to protest against the regime.

In the picture below high school students in Keratsini, Athens parade wearing the antinazi symbol.

In the video below, protesters in the city of Thessaloniki confront police brutality and repression.

7 comments / Σχολια

  1. Once again !! If European leaders deals with these greek politics, they are going to lose their money ! Greek politics and their parties (PASOK and New Democracy) are the only reason Greece is going to bankruptcy ! I live in Greece and I believe that if Greece owns today 400 billion, 320 of them are at politics and their immediate "big friends" accounts or offshore enterprices. The others 80 billions are at the accounts of "small friends" and privileged people of politic cast.

    • So you assume that European leaders who supposedly 'send money to Greece' know nothing about the situation in this country (corruption and interweaving)? You want me to believe that when Simitis was cooking the books with officials of the Goldman Sacks, presenting fake statistics which would allow Greece to join the Euro, the rest of the European leaders were not informed about the cronyism of the Greek State (despite that Greece was a member of the EU for almost 25 years)?

      As a Greek myself, I put the blame, initially, to our own leaders and our own ruthless ruling classes, and I strongly believe, that these rotten apples should be now behind the bars (instead of Vaxevanis). I am, also, outraged with the aristocracy of the Church (which should be placed on Guinness World Records; the biggest tax evader ever), as I am called to pay the price of their own impunity, by seeing the pensions of my parents being reduced, and part of our incomes being axed. I am, also, outraged with the Western liberal and conservative press that made no distinction between the ordinary Greek citizens and the upper classes, hiding the truth to millions of people around the globe, and, cultivating, thus, a climate of discrimination against the entire Greek population. And last, but not least, we have a fair share of responsibility for allowing ourselves to be governed by these bunch of looters, ND, PASOK, and their left and right wing 'peripheries' (as I call them), DIM.AR and LA.O.S. Apathy, depoliticization, consumerism, inability of self-determination, passive acceptance of postmodern Neoliberal values… this is all what you get!!! A crisis after crisis…

      Even with less corrupted leaders, even with a more accurate tax collecting system, this crisis could not have been avoided. Because; 1) it is a systemic crisis and 2) in the age of global governance, where transnational institutions play a key role in the 'political' affairs, there is no competition between nations any more, but between 'classes' and groups. Political leaders, giant corporations, off shore companies, do not regard nationalities and borders. Therefore, one way or another, the inevitable Stock market crash in the US would, soon, spread as a virus, almost everywhere, affecting worse the more dependent economies and the weaker states of the EU. And it was inevitable thanks to ideals like the unlimited accumulation of capital, the rationalization of the maximization of profit by any means and the unstoppable expansion of productive forces, which are, together, the dominant values of this system, as Max Weber would have said, or, else, the capitalist imaginary, according to Cornelius Castoriadis. The only particularity of the Greek case (and, almost of all the countries of the Euro-periphery), in contrast with the rich States of the North, is that there is, also, a crisis within the system, together with the pulverization of capitalism, which is a global phenomenon. In addition, the crisis is not only financial, but also (and mostly) deeply political and cultural, as well. Political because, since 2005, what we witness in the entire continent, is a gradual attack on basic democratic rights. The European Commission has systematically blackmailed the people of France, Netherlands and Ireland to accept the Lisbon Treaty which they had once rejected via democratic referendums. In, almost, all of these countries, the direct express of the people's sovereign will is supposedly guaranteed by their constitutional rights, which have been violated thanks to the arbitrary and unpopular political power exercised by Brussels European Parliament, banking institutions and multimillionaire corporations that dictate the global economic casino. Have we, actually, forgotten the soft 'coup d' etat' against Papandreou's government, who was replaced by the technocrat L.Papademos, and similarly in Italy, M.Monti replaced Berlusconi? The terror propaganda of the Greek and foreign media, just a few weeks behind the elections, that in case a left-wing party, like SYRIZA would have won, Greece could have been expelled from the EU? Even the illusion that "we possibly live in a democracy" has been collapsed. The oligarchs totally ignore the consent of their 'subjects'. They pass anti-social legislations without even taking into their account our voices, wages, pensions and social benefits are reduced, while, the average of working hours and retirement age have already been extended, and public services, national wealths, properties and organizations privatized. It is in our hands to stop this madness, and we can achieve it only if we understand that we have the power to change things, to create a new global order, to push forward values of solidarity (where every individual is benefited when others are benefited too), direct participation, self-management (people control their own lives and solve material issues democratically), instead of pure antagonism, selfishness and individualism…

  2. I find this as an almost deliberate provocation by the journalist himself (I mean, he HAD to know) and hopefully the European Media will find this interesting as well.
    I am currently Brussels-based and we hardly receive any news regarding 'the Greece matter' other than the ones hiding (or not) a connotation 'it's the Greek laziness'. Seriously, I've heard even the Spaniards say 'hey, we have siesta, but at least we work SOMEtimes'.
    I'd have to completely agree with the previous comment on the fact that there has not been any distinction made between the general public and the elite, which is such a pity as the then even the brightest people (not into politics) in Brussels (all of the Human Right activists and NGOs, for example, who fight against racism in Greece) are making off-the record ''lazy Greek' jokes as it seems (all we know from the Media at least) that due to poor financial management ''all the Europe has to pay now''.
    And I almost forgot about what kind of point I was trying to make..ah, yes – as horrible as it sounds, maybe this particular case of journalist imprisonment could be a precedent for our Media to shift their focus a little bit – such things usually don't get unnoticed as ''we're so democratic ;) '' and hopefully the opinions of the general public would become more varied. Because as long as it's so one-sided and completely negative (except 'poor them' kind of quotes), populist politicians in the Parliament are not going to be in favour of the country..

    • Thanks you for this nice comment and for your solidarity. A few months ago, I published an article regarding the anti-Greek racism
      I am also preparing a new essay regarding this matter, where I will outline more in depth the cultural divisions between EU. In fact, I find extremely myopic all the economic analyses, coming from supposedly well respected economists. You can't acquire a holistic view regarding the Greek (or better say it global) crisis, by sticking only in numbers and mathematics that most of the ordinary people cannot even understand. Articles that view the world order, strictly only from an economic point of view, ignore the fact the this so called economic crisis is not just only economic, but also a crisis in social, political and cultural values. We need to have in mind that all these divisions between European North and South are nothing more but a reflection of deep cultural conflicts. In the European "Democracy" in fragments I mentioned something about a generalized political conformity and regression. "This regression also revealed many cultural divisions (most importantly the one between the “rich North” and the “poor South”), divisions that existed between European nations long before the spark of the economic crisis, but were forgotten for the sake of a temporary “economic prosperity”. All these hatred against southern Europeans has its roots in white the Northern imaginary, the white-blond superiority, over the 'olive skinned Southerners'. If you want to understand better what I mean, I suggest you to read Hannah Arendt’s book, The Origins of Totalitarianism (… ) The second part of this outstanding work deals with European imperialism and race thinking from the end of the 19nth century until the outbreak of the First World War. The industrial powers needed to craft new markets and this caused invasions. Racism was used to justify imperialist plans. Hence, we are talking about an imaginary that has been cultivated for thousands of years and, of course, it is not easy to be wiped away. It is a part of European civilization, its dark and odious side, and if the Europeans want to get rid of it, they will probably need to adopt a different perspective about life and society.

      Nonetheless, among all the countries of South, Greece has been blamed more. Why? 1) Because the Greeks resist, unlikely to many Northerners who blindly follow all these protestant work ethics and 2) because Greece is the less European comparing to Italy, Portugal and Spain. In fact, Greek lifestyle has been influenced a lot by Asian cultures. There are many Greeks (one of those is me) who don’t consider themselves Europeans.

      Let's face it. European Union hasn't work and will never work. We need to understand that EU is consisted by 27 DIFFERENT nations, with different ethics, languages, history, cultures and religions. You can't force the people to abandon their identities for the sake of a common economy. This is not United States of America where there is common language, common national history and a national solidarity. I am not against intercultural relations but it is a utopia to believe that such a project will work. I am all for a Europe of free movement and cultural exchanges, but not for a technocratic Europe, not an economic based union.

  3. I do agree with economic point and the fact that when system failed Greece was the first on the list to be pointed out, but you have to remember it's not solely based on counting the coins. There are numerous areas where the union did succeed (or at least pushed things for the better) and Human Rights is one of those areas. Not saying that we were worth the Nobel Prize, but if one had to chose the region for it, its either us or the US (even with the Middle-East in mind). And I don't think that if we were just twenty-something different countires with not much in common (institutionally) we could have much impact on the power struggle against authoritarian regimes.
    Also, it is not really fair to say that the free movement is ''an ok'', but ''we can deal with it ourselves'', because with post-modern multiculturalisation new problems arise and if a country is only dealing with it from an insider perspective (often accompanied by populists of the far right) too much is overseen and that's exactly when I find the Brussels' 'dictatorship' actually worth something. Taking Greece for example – it is one of my favorite European countries, but had I been an Albanian working in the construction, I'd be constanly underpaid or had I been been an undocumented migrant, I'd have no rights whatsoever. Not to mention if I were from Macedonia, I'd find out that there's no such thing ;)
    So you are kind of right when you say Greece is less Europeanised compared to Italy, Spain or Portugal, but it's not so much for the 'olive skin' as you'd call it, but rather for ther underlying matter to be considered, which is a national pride. And not to question whether it's a good thing or not (I mean, the French would never even consider it), but it does add up to the ''differences'' and the sense of superiority coming from the country itself (fun fact – I am from Eastern-Europe and 25% of my history's state exam was Greek history, whereas I could claim that 75% of Greek people I've met could not even locate my country on a map). So the whole claim of Northern superiority against Greece in particular doesn't sound that serious, as if there was a list of the most nationalistic countries prior to crisis, to my mind, they'd go 1.France 2.UK 3.Greece 4.Germany
    It's you history that we study in schools and it's your philosophers we analyse in universities, Greece is probably the only East-South country with a capital known for Italian Parliament stagiers (ok, I'm over-emphasising), but the fact is – it is not a victim of racism. Hell, it's often vice versa.
    And no, I'm not wearing an EU badge or a tattoo on my shoulder, but the whole modern approach of 'one way information' whether comming from commissioners, NGO's or eu sceptics makes me want to emigrate to f"#g Asia.

    • 1) “There are numerous areas where the union did succeed (or at least pushed things for the better) and Human Rights is one of those areas. Not saying that we were worth the Nobel Prize, but if one had to choose the region for it, it’s either us or the US (even with the Middle-East in mind). And I don't think that if we were just twenty-something different countries with not much in common (institutionally) we could have much impact on the power struggle against authoritarian regimes.”
      I agree that Human Rights Organizations have succeeded within the EU. But here there is a distinction worthy to be mentioned. This did not happen thanks to the existence of this interstate organization. Rather, it happened thanks to all messages we acquired from history, where have, finally, understood that the tragedy of the First and Second World War should never be repeated again, thanks to social struggles against imperialism, fascism, racism sexism and discrimination, which led the foundations for a more democratic society. In fact, millions of people in Europe fought and died so that fascism and imperialism could be challenged and nations liberated. Millions of voices challenged racism and social exclusion. A great percentage of the people of Europe recognized that the principles of liberty and self-determination should prevail upon imperialist greed, that values like equality, isonomy and egalitarianism are more important than antagonism, individualism and isolationism. Nonetheless, do we need European Union to achieve that? What is really the European Union? Nothing but a top down hierarchical build mechanism! For me, as a person that challenges capitalism, hierarchy and statism, I would much more prefer to see the EU being replaced by another institution (or complex of institutions) that would solely promote egalitarianism, civil liberties and intercultural relations which is a new project I would like to propose, an alternative liberal multiculturalism.
      It is a different approach of how can cultures co-exist and it may remind you a bit something from the alter-globalization movement (according to some feedbacks I receive sometimes)

      2) “So you are kind of right when you say Greece is less Europeanised compared to Italy, Spain or Portugal, but it's not so much for the 'olive skin' as you'd call it, but rather for ther underlying matter to be considered, which is a national pride.
      From what I understand here (if I understand well, otherwise please correct me), you mentioned that in my views there is an underlying nationalism. If this is the case, I have to outline this issue a little bit more, in order to clarify things. 1) I am against any form of nationalism. I would call myself as a passionate stateless internationalist. Nonetheless, nationalism still plays an important role in the global political affairs, despite that globalization prevails. Nationalism (either talking about civic or ethnic nationalism) is identical and tautological, or even in some ways, existential. Such like many other political ideologies and religions; it produces a certain meaning for every individual subjected to specific ethnic or civic values. There is nothing wrong for a person to have an identity, as this satisfies the sense of belonging somewhere within the time and space. However, there is a problem, when a person receives such values unquestionably. Try, for example, to ask from a religious fundamentalist individual the following question; “are the rules, according to which you have organized your life, just and fair, both for you or your surrounding fellows?” Here there is no rational answer. Because this person claims that “these are the laws of God and if I don’t obey I might be punished eternally”. This is a form of heteronomy that is deeply rooted to any nationalist perception, which we have to fight against, if we want to achieve a better world.

      3) “It's you history that we study in schools and it's your philosophers we analyse in universities”
      No, it’s not ‘our’ philosophers, neither ‘our’ history. Because, first of all, history is a human creation, and abstract interpretations regarding this matter are not acceptable. Hence, what you call ‘my’ or ‘our’ history is what I reject. Because the history of ancient Greece that ‘you study’ is not my creation, neither a creation of modern Greeks. Hence, it does not belong to me, neither to the rest of my fellow ‘compatriots’, neither to anybody else. It simply, belongs to those who created it (who died a few centuries ago). I can understand that while I was subjected to modern Greek values eek I may understand very well the concept of Greek antiquity. But it doesn’t go further than that, since cannot claim an ‘ownership’, because, just like any other person, while I was born, I started my life from zero. Next to that, as I am opposed to any form of determinism or heteronomy, I don’t believe that there is a historical continuance between modern and ancient Greece, and I don’t need also to rely on any such sentiment. I would rather give praise or contemn myself according to the skills I acquire, according to my OWN actions and achievements, rather to what some fellows a few thousand years ago did. History and philosophy is here, for everyone willing to study, regardless of nationality, race, etc

      4) “if there was a list of the most nationalistic countries prior to crisis, to my mind, they'd go 1.France 2.UK 3.Greece 4.Germany”
      Here we need to clarify for what kind of nationalist we are talking about. I would regard Greece as the top one in terms of xenophobic nationalism. Then, probably, Hungary, followed by Italy… here you can find the European map (published by the French newspaper, probably Le Figaro if I remember well) which shows in which country, far right parties have bigger success;
      If we are talking about left-wing nationalism, then we might consider Ireland or Scotland while Spain tops in the list of countries where secessionist movements take place (Catalan and Basque Independence, to name a few)

  4. Well for one I had to say English language always holds me as a hostage regarding the unflexible ''You'' expression – I didn't use it as a part of direct speech, therefore that might have sounded like a personal attact. Whereas actually the main point I was defending is that if there is one thing Greek people cannot blame the North for, it is racism towards (seriously, stand in line!). And the whole thing of (non-right) nationalism – as I'm not a politic guru – was meant in a healthy, shallow 'proud of your country' kind of way.

    And I do see your point except maybe the one part about compolitic intercultural ID. See to me that sounds either unfortunate or fake. As someone who has changed quite a few living places (continents included), I can first-handedly understand what Bauman means by calling us Vagabonds. Yet part of a national identity is still 'there somewhere' and culture in sense of History and literature (personal case) is something to identify with. Yet if I were to take upon a philosophy of – what's theirs was theirs but now they're dead – next time I had to think of a reason to be in favor of my country I would fall short. Of course, if one 'is so full of personal achievements' maybe failing to identify with your country it's not that much of a loss ;)

    As for the direct democracy idea…probably if there was a country, which could try to make it work, probably Greece would be the one. Yet I could not even try to discuss this even futher as I become so sceptical that it makes me feel old. Maybe it's still the mood of our week-old post-soviet country (not your case obviously) government elections, which had the results that made Churchill's phrase come alive again “the best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.”

    Apart from that – I actually do think you guys are doing a great job and since in the middle of a paragraph I've lost the point of what I was arguing for, it probably means it's not Your views that should be challenged.

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