A group of self-styled anarchists threw glass objects at Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and his wife Danae at an Athens restaurant late on Tuesday, but she hugged him to shield him from the attack, the finance ministry said.
The couple had just finished having dinner with friends in the bohemian Exarchia district — the site of frequent protests by left-wing protesters — when the group entered the restaurant’s courtyard, telling them to leave “their area”.
Varoufakis said his wife, an artist, blocked the attack. They tried “for a few seconds to reach me without hitting her,” he said in the ministry statement.
Then “they retreated fast continuing their curses and threats, got out of the courtyard and waited for us outside the restaurant,” Varoufakis added.
The statement did not go into details on what prompted the attack. The outspoken economist has won fans in Greece for opposing austerity policies but has also garnered criticism at home for his brash style and a celebrity photo shoot in a French magazine.
The minister said he thought the group was more interested in embarrassing him than injuring him.
The couple left the courtyard and got on their motorcycle to leave.
“I started a dialogue with them, saying that I wanted to hear them out, even if that meant that I would be hit,” said Varoufakis. “After 15 minutes of a tense but non-violent talk spirits calmed.”
Varoufakis was sidelined by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in a reshuffle of Greece’s negotiating team with EU/IMF lenders on Monday after slow progress in talks over reforms to unlock aid.