Greece's 'rock star' finance minister Yanis Varoufakis saved by hug from wife after 'anarchists' attack in Athens restaurant

Protesters tried 'to reach me without hitting her' before retreating, he says

Adam Withnall
Wednesday 29 April 2015 09:46 BST
File: Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, right, attends a banking conference in Athens with his wife Danae Stratou on 21 April
File: Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, right, attends a banking conference in Athens with his wife Danae Stratou on 21 April

Greece’s controversial finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has avoided injury in an incident involving “anarchists” in central Athens after his wife hugged him to shield him from attack.

The “rock star” minister and his wife, the artist Danae Stratou, were having dinner with friends in the Greek capital’s bohemian Exarchia district when a group of left-wing protesters confronted them demanding they leave “their area”.

According to a statement from Varoufakis’ office, the attackers had their faces covered and threw glass objects at the couple in the courtyard outside the restaurant.

Varoufakis said his wife put her arms around him and the protesters tried “for a few seconds to reach me without hitting her” before retreating.

He said the group left the courtyard “cursing and threatening” to wait for them outside, at which point Varoufakis claimed: “I started a dialogue with them, saying that I wanted to hear them out, even if that meant that I would be hit. After 15 minutes of a tense but non-violent talk spirits calmed.”

Local media reported that the incident involved 10 self-styled anarchists, and that the finance minister and his wife left unharmed on their motorbike. The incident was not reported to the police.

Varoufakis has emerged as one of the most high-profile ministers in Alexis Tsipras’s left-wing Syriza-led government with his outspoken anti-austerity public profile.

But he has also been the target of criticism and personal attacks – including one incident where a satirist apparently mocked up a video to make it look like he was “sticking the finger up” at Germany.

George Osborne with the Greek Finance Minister, Yanis Varoufakis, outside 11 Downing Street on Monday

He received significant attention in Britain at the start of February when he turned up at 11 Downing Street for talks with the Chancellor, George Osborne, in an open-collar shirt and leather jacket. A celebrity photo shoot in a French magazine was also criticised as not being statesmanlike behaviour.

And Varoufakis has been accused by Greece’s European creditors over the months-long failure to negotiate terms over a new €7.2 billion bailout agreement. On Monday, Greece announced it was reshuffling its team at the talks with the Prime Minister himself taking over – widely seen as a sidelining of Varoufakis.

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