ISTANBUL - Workers around the globe rallied Friday to mark May Day, clashing with police in several European cities in a further sign of growing social unrest due to the economic crisis.
Greek officers used flash grenades to disperse violent protesters in Athens after they carried out attacks on banks and traffic cameras. No arrests or injuries were reported, but strikes disrupted bus, train and ferry services as well as flights by Olympic Airlines.
French workers turned out in unusually large numbers for marches throughout the country, where fractious unions, angry at the conservative government's handling of the crisis, came together for the first time in decades to stage a Paris march. On the first May Day since the advent of the crisis, Russian police were out in force as Communists and liberals gathered to criticize the government. No violence was reported, but police said four leftists were detained after trying to light flares near the Kremlin. Dozens of nationalists and leftists were detained in St. Petersburg, Russian news agencies reported.
In Italy, union leaders shifted rallies from major cities to the earthquake-stricken town of L'Aquila as a sign of solidarity with the thousands who lost their jobs when businesses crumbled in last month's quake. In socialist Havana, hundreds of thousands of marchers waving Cuban and Communist Party flags, pictures of Fidel and Raul Castro and banners with socialist slogans marked May Day on the sprawling Plaza of the Revolution. Despite huge expectations, ailing Fidel Castro did not attend, but wrote in a column that the U.S. would like to see Cuba "return to the ranks of slaves."
In Tokyo, some 36,000 people rallied in Yoyogi Park to demand better welfare benefits, with others protesting military spending, according Agence France-Presse. There were also rallies in Seoul, Manila, the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh and Taipei.