OURANOUPOLIS, 5 october, Greece: About 500 people demonstrated Sunday afternoon in this northern Greek down bordering the monastic community of Mount Athos to protest profitable real estate deals made by one of the community’s 20 monasteries.
The protest was led by four deputies from the Coalition of the Radical Left, a left-wing opposition party.
“No to holy business” said one banner carried at the protest, which was peaceful.
The 1,000-year-old Vatopedi Monastery, one of the largest of the 20 monasteries on Mount Athos, was found to have profited by at least â‚¬100 million (US$138 million) from swapping land it owned for state-owned plots throughout northern Greece, a preliminary investigation led by Supreme Court prosecutor Giorgos Sanidas found last month.
The swaps started after 1999, when the government recognized the monastery’s claim to public land in northern Greece. In exchange, Vatopedi agreed to relinquish its lakeside property, which has been farmed for decades and includes a nature reserve.