Panayiotis Kleovoulou, a Limassol-based lawyer, and Antonis Pieridis, also from Limassol, both associated with far-right political movements, were arrested on Saturday in connection with an attack by some 20 black-clad and hooded men against a gathering of left-wing organisations at Limassol’s technical university the previous night.
Early on Saturday, warrants for the arrest of Kleovoulou, 57, and Pieridis, 52, who were identified by eye-witnesses as they had no hoods on, were secured by police.
Both men openly subscribe to far-right politics and have run for office on nationalist platforms – Kleovoulou for MEP with Elam in 2014 and Pieridis for MP in 2011 with Edik, a far-right movement that has since disbanded.
Speaking to MegaOne TV channel’s online news portal TVOneNews on Saturday, Klevoulou said that he had been at the event but had nothing to do with any violence.
He said he didn’t know who the hooded men were, and claimed that a group of anarchists attacked first.
The 20-strong group carried wooden clubs and threw stones at the event’s attendees, slightly injuring four.
Eye-witness reports suggest that after the thugs dispersed following the arrival of the police, Kleovoulou stayed behind and continued to harass the attendees.
Around 100 people were attending the event, organised by the group We Want a Federation, which focused on the Left’s role in reunification and partition.
In a statement, left-wing activist group Granazi, one of the Tepak event’s organisers, said police had been informed of the event but took no precautionary measures.
Earlier, police had denied being informed of the planned event ahead of time.
“We called the Limassol police ourselves on Thursday morning and informed them of the event, and they assured us police would be present as early as 6:30pm,” a spokesperson for Granazi told the Sunday Mail.
“But the attack started at 6:50 and police did not show up until after it was over.”
In the statement, Granazi also attacked Justice minister Ionas Nicolaou, who has variously been accused of taking no or little action to curb incidents involving far-right organisations or people.
Granazi also released a short mobile-phone video taken during the attack.
In it, black-clad, hooded, and club-wielding men try to enter the venue while shouting expletives at attendees.
Also at the receiving end of criticism for not doing enough to address such incidents was President Nicos Anastasiades, who condemned the violence and called for investigation into the Tepak incident.
“Peace in our country requires dialogue,” he tweeted on Saturday.
“I condemn violence and attacks by hooded men. I ask for the speedy investigation of the Tepak affair.”
Political parties also condemned the incident, with Akel organising an anti-fascist protest on Saturday night “as a first step”.
“This is yet another incident involving an attack by fascists over the Cyprus problem, which should alarm every reasonable citizen in this country,” the party said.
“We call on the government to react and stop looking the other way. Experience has proven that hesitation and ambivalence in addressing fascism, nationalism, and the far-right, lead to big problems and tragedies, from which our people are still suffering.”
In a statement, Diko also condemned the attack, saying such incidents “hurt democracy and the freedom of expression”.
“We call on society to isolate these elements, and the state to act appropriately to bring those responsible to justice,” the party said.
Socialist Edek said such incidents “create unnecessary tension and division”.
“These actions may provide those who want no change in our strategy with arguments,” the party said.
The Green party also condemned the incident, saying they had been victims to similar attacks in the past.