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ATHENS, October 28 (Itar-Tass) —— Greek demonstrators disrupted on Friday a military parade on the occasion of the Ohi Day – a national holiday, which is a symbol of the war of Greece against Nazism.
Several groups of demonstrators with black flags and streamers, which featured slogans against the economic policy of the government, blocked the central avenue by both sides in Saloniki and did not permit to stage the parade. The demonstrators were kept back by men of the special police force, who blocked the avenue with police buses and cars. No measures were taken to disperse the protesters.
Greek President Karolos Papoulias, who was to greet participants in the parade, waited for half an hour, after which he expressed regret over the actions of the demonstrators and left the rostrum together with other officials.
It is the first time in the history of modern Greece that a military parade was not held in Saloniki on the occasion of the Ohi Day, which is usually celebrated on a massive scale.
Seventy one years ago – on October 28, 1940 – the Greek leaders said a resolute No (Ohi) to the ultimatum of Benito Mussolini, who demanded the capitulation of Greece before the troops of fascist Italy and the granting to it of a stronghold on the Greek territory as a guarantee of Greek neutrality during World War II. Shortly afterwards the Mussolini troops started combat operations against the Greek army.
In the subsequent months Greeks managed to inflict a crushing defeat on Italy on the snow-covered mountain sloped in the southern part of Albania. According to the estimates of historians, the six-months-long Albanian campaign claimed the lives of 38,000 Italians and 13,500 Greeks. Tens of thousands of men in both armies were wounded or frost-bitten. Nazi Germany entered the war on the side of Mussolini in the spring of 1941, which upset the balance of forces. Greece was occupied for three years. Nevertheless, the victory in the Greek-Italian war was of enormous importance for the nation. Greece, the only country that time, which fought Nazism together with Britain, brought to the Allies their first major victory in World War II.