A rally of more than 20,000 protesters in Athens' Syntagma Square turned ugly today, as police fired tear gas into the crowd and protesters hurled rocks, firebombs, and even yogurt at them. There was also fighting amongst the crowd, with demonstrators clashing with a group of violent hooded youths, the AP reports. The demonstrations come as part of a 24-hour general strike protesting the austerity measures the government is working to pass. It must adopt the austerity program by the end of the month, or face being cut off from rescue loans from European countries and the IMF.
Demonstrators had been trying to blockade parliament to prevent lawmakers from debating the measures, but police cut them off, sealing off a large part of central Athens to make a path for the MPs. Not that lawmakers are united behind the austerity measure, the BBC reports. “You have to be as cruel as a tiger to vote for these measures,” said an MP who defected from PM George Papandreou's party yesterday. “I am not.” (Click for more on Greece's financial woes.)