Tear gas thrown at May Day rally in Paris

May Day: Police clash with protesters from Paris to St Petersburg as rallies boil over across Europe

Protesters clashes with police in major cities across the continent

Jon Stone
Europe Correspondent
Wednesday 01 May 2019 23:04

Police have clashed with protesters in major cities across Europe as workers held traditional May Day rallies in a backdrop of simmering unrest across the continent.

More than 200 people were arrested in Paris after anarchists and gilets jaunes protesters joined trade unionists on the streets, clashing briefly with 7,400 police, who used tear gas on a crowd.

Police also clashed with protesters in Gothenburg, Sweden’s second city, where anti-fascist protesters threw cobblestones and fireworks as they tried to reach a neo-Nazi rally.

In Copenhagen, police tried to split off black-clad anarchists from the main May Day march by encircling protesters with vans and making a handful of arrests.

There were also scenes of heavy-handed policing in Russia, where activists say more than 100 people have been arrested across the country, with at least 68 detentions in St Petersburg, according to activists.

Some protesters carried placards that read “Putin is not immortal” in reference to the Russian president Vladimir Putin, who has been at the helm of the country since 2000. Many of the protesters are supporters of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Russian authorities say around 100,000 people took part in peaceful May Day rallies in Moscow, an event staged by Kremlin-sanctioned trade unions. Observer group OVD-Info says six activists were detained in the Russian capital before the morning rallies.

Separately, Russian police in the remote far-eastern Russian city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky arrested 10 people after they turned up to a May Day rally wearing yellow vests – in an apparent nod to the French protest movement.

Riot police officers detain protesters during a rally in St Petersburg

In Istanbul, police detained May Day demonstrators who attempted to march towards the symbolic central Taksim Square, in defiance of a ban. The Turkish government cited security risks and only allowed small trade union delegations through to the square to lay wreaths there.

May Day rallies also took place in around a dozen cities in Germany. There, the country’s trade union federation used the occasion to urge its members to participate in the upcoming European parliament elections later this month. The DGB, whose unions total six million members, said the EU was responsible for securing social rights, from paid holiday to maternity protection.

Police take on protesters and neo-Nazis in clash during May Day riots in Sweden

The union confederation said in a statement that the Brexit vote in the UK “shows what happens if those who stoke fear but have no plan for the future gain the upper hand”.

In Berlin itself, car-sharing firm Miles warned its users not to park its cars near an area where May Day protests were expected to be held. Rallies in the past have erupted into violence and ended with cars being torched. Tens of thousands of activists in Berlin are using the occasion to protest against gentrification and the rising cost of living in the city.

In the Greek capital of Athens, three separate May Day rallies took place, organised by rival groups. A series of strikes by trade unions across the country to mark international workers’ day has left the capital without bus and metro services, and the whole country without national rail and island ferry services – leaving some municipalities isolated from the rest of the country.

Meanwhile in Italy two protesters and a police officer were injured in the northern city of Turin in protests over the construction of a new high-speed railway. Some of the protesters are aligned with the governing Five Star Movement, but its coalition partner League supports the project.

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