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UT Student in Athens Witnessing Greek Protests

Protesters gathering June 5th at Syntagma Square in front of the Hellenic Parliament building in Athens, Greece.
Photo courtesy of Michael Nevradakis for KUT News.
Protesters gathering June 5th at Syntagma Square in front of the Hellenic Parliament building in Athens, Greece.

The Associated Pressis reporting the Greek Cabinet today approved and submitted to Parliament a new round of austerity measures for the debt-ridden country. People against the cost-cutting measures have been hitting the streets to protest over the last few weeks. 

Michael Nevradakis, a Ph.D. student in UT's Radio Television Film department, is witnessing the protests first hand. He's in Athens for the summer researching blogging trends. Nevradakis spoke to KUT News earlier this week.

KUT News: Could you briefly tell me what kind of research you’re doing there?

Nevradakis: The research that I’m doing regards the Greek blogosphere. There are a lot of blogs in Greece a lot of blogging activity and blogs have become a very popular source of news and information for a lot of Greek people, especially those that feel that the mainstream news media are not really doing an adequate job of informing the public about important issues.

A lot of the activity surrounding the protests, including just the way the protests have even been organized, has been done through social media -- through Facebook, through Twitter. And also there are a lot of postings that have appeared on popular blogs as well. So it’s a very relevant topic to be researching right now, and it’s really a very interesting time to be here.

KUT News: How long have you been there and what have you seen in your time there?

Nevradakis: I’ve been here for about 3 weeks, and in the time that I’ve been here, the major thing of course that I’ve seen is the protests that have been taking place on a daily basis. The biggest protests have been in Athens, outside of the Parliament building in the central square of Athens. There's a general feeling that if people don’t do something now, that the situation will just get worse and worse.

KUT News: Can you describe the protests to us?

Nevradakis: The biggest protests took place this past Sunday [June 5, 2011]. The crowds were estimated to be anywhere between 100,000 people on the low end and 500,000 people on the high end. No matter what the actual number was, it was pretty clear to everyone here that these were the largest protests that have taken place in many decades.

All of the streets surrounding central Athens were completely filled with people of all walks of life, young people, college graduates, families with young children, retirees, it was really a very representative cross-section of Greek society because everyone is more or less feeling a pinch right now and everyone is more or less disgusted with the current economic situation.

KUT News: Can you tell us about the level of organization among protestors?

Nevradakis: They’ve set up legal committees to research issues pertaining to the crisis and to contribute knowledge to the public dialog that takes place every night. Every night, people have the opportunity to speak openly and to discuss their views about the crisis.

They’ve set up audio and video streaming from the heart of the protest as well, so they’re streaming the protests online. They’re also being broadcast locally on a student-run radio station here in Athens. So in a short amount of time they’ve managed to create almost a city within a city at the heart of the protests.