Fugitive Member of the Organization for Revolutionary Self-Defense Arrested after Robbing Bank in Thessaloniki
The accused point-man of the defunct Greek anarchist urban guerrilla group, the Organization for Revolutionary Self-Defense (OEA), was captured in Thessaloniki by counter-terrorism units of the Hellenic Police around noon today, following an armed bank robbery earlier this morning. Police caught up with Dimitris Chatzivasileiadis a short time after the 46-year-old member of OEA robbed a branch of Alpha Bank at gunpoint in the Neapoli borough of Thessaloniki. Chatzivasileiadis reportedly produced a Kalashnikov-pattern rifle and told patrons to get on the ground as he made off with €8,275 in cash from the bank’s tills. Upon locating Chatzivasileiadis, police somehow managed to immobilize his escape vehicle, from which they recovered the cash, along with the rifle used during the robbery and a handheld radio. He is currently being held for questioning, and is expected to be transferred to Athens by counter-terrorism units.
Chatzivasileiadis was tried in absentia back in April of this year, along with a friend, Vangelis Stathopoulos, who was arrested following a police raid on his home in 2019. They were each sentenced to 16 and 19 years in prison, respectively. According to Greek authorities, Chatzivasileiadis and Stathopoulos conducted an armed robbery on an OPAP gambling shop in the Athens borough of Cholargos on October 21st, 2019, in which they took €1,906. As he and his partner exited the store, Chatzivasileiadis accidentally shot himself in the leg while grabbing the rifle used in that “appropriation”1 from his accomplice. Though according to Chatzivasileiadis, he was not accompanied by Stathopoulos, but instead by a different person, and only sought refuge at the former’s home for emergency medical treatment, calling upon him as an old friend. Together, they managed to patch Chatzivasileiadis up along with help from a third friend working at a local hospital. Chatzivasileiadis says he then fled to a second safe-house, leaving several “tools for the revolution”--including his rifle and a quantity of dynamite--behind at the home of Stathopoulos, all of which were seized in the subsequent police raid.
(The rifle used in the 2019 Cholargos robbery)
Chatzivasileiadis has been on the run ever since. He has published a couple of communications during his time in hiding, but has not carried out any significant actions during this same time. Among his published writings are a debriefing of the Cholargos OPAP store robbery, in which Chatzivasileiadis offers his own perspective on the event in contradiction to that provided by Greek prosecutors. Interestingly, in response to the rioting and demonstrations for racial justice in the United States during the summer of 2020, and specifically regarding the killing of antifa activist and “Portland shooter,” Michael Reinoehl, Chatzivasileiadis called for an international “week of revenge” in December of last year. Reinoehl was gunned down by US Marshals in Washington state, shortly after admitting to Vice News that he shot and killed an armed member of the far-right group, Patriot Prayer, in Portland, Oregon, on August 29th. (He essentially described the shooting as an act of defense.)
OEA’s initial guerrilla operations in 2014 consisted of small arms attacks targeting the outer facades of buildings belonging to foreign governments and Greek political parties, as well as the standing riot police unit, the MAT. In addition to targeting the Mexican Embassy in one such attack, members of OEA also threw a hand grenade at the entrance of the French Embassy, injuring a police officer. They injured another police officer in 2016 when they opened fire on an MAT bus in Athens.
Since the arrest of Stathopoulos, several small-scale reprisal attacks against various targets have been carried out in his name by the Greek anarchist underground. Greece’s newest network of revolutionary militants, the Direct Action Cells, has an ongoing campaign of attacks using Moltov cocktails and improvised incendiary devices in solidarity with Stathopoulos. Now that Chatzivasileiadis has been captured, this campaign will surely expand to include attacks in his name as well.
A bank “appropriation” or “expropriation” is a revolutionary term for a robbery.