On Tuesday, the Greek Parliament voted on legislation effectively preventing the neo-Nazi “Greek National party” led by jailed former Golden Dawn member Ilias Kasidiaris (Ηλίας Κασιδιάρης) from participating in the elections next month. Kasidiaris is currently serving time for a litany of crimes committed while a leader in the now-defunct Golden Dawn. While the Parliament is working to ban the party, Kasidiaris is happily posting on YouTube, and making money on the videos, from his jail cell.
The Greek National party, or “the Greeks,” is an attempt by the leadership of the now-banned Golden Dawn to revive their movement. Golden Dawn was an expressly neo-fascist and neo-Nazi organization with strong anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, antisemitic, and anti-leftist sentiments, as well as Holocaust-denying and irredentist views. Members of Golden Dawn regularly committed acts of violence against minorities, non-Greeks, and leftists. Golden Dawn members have been found responsible for attacking Egyptian fishermen in Piraeus, attacking lawyer Evgenia Kouniaki in 2017, stabbing Pakistani Shehzad Luqman in 2013, and murdering Pavlos Fyssas (the latter leading to the arrest of seven Golden Dawn MPs). In July 2014, 10 members of Golden Dawn were arrested for the “murder, extortion and the disappearance of up to 100 immigrants.” They also vandalized the Holocaust memorial in Thessaloniki four times with swastikas.
During all of this, Kasidiaris was the main spokesperson for Golden Dawn and an elected member of parliament. In his first parliamentary speech, he read out passages from The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and in 2016, he gave a speech in which he called left-wing parties “traitors” for “selling out” the country’s national sovereignty and helping to turn Greece into “an Islamic country.”
Kasidiaris has a criminal record and is known for violence. In 2012, he was prosecuted for illegal possession of weapons, and in June 2012, he assaulted two female politicians on a Greek morning television show. He and 67 other members of Golden Dawn were charged by the police, and 38 members were given prison sentences in October 2020 for running a criminal organization under the guise of being a democratically-elected party, with Kasidiaris and the leadership receiving 13 years in prison.
Kasidiaris’ neo-Nazi party’s online appearance is sharp and professional. Kasidiaris’ most recent YouTube videos primarily only consist of audio, because he records them from jail. Dressed in a suit and tie, the videos and banners on YouTube lead back to the website for the Greek National Party. There one can find many of the familiar racist claims typical of Golden Dawn: immigrants are the “primary source of crime,” Greeks are “becoming a minority” and the country is being “Islamized.” Their program reads “Greece belongs to the Greeks,” a common white nationalist trope and a tenet of the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory.
Apparently, none of this bothers YouTube, which continues to allow a platform for one of Greece’s most prominent imprisoned neo-Nazis. Worse, the videos are monetized with ads from various companies, allowing Kasidiaris to make money from them. According to data from SocialBlade, Kasidiaris has over 135,000 followers and around 26,608,450 total video views. One video, in which he blames Greece’s ruling New Democracy party of “altering the population of Greece,” a clear signifier for “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory rhetoric, has nearly a quarter million views. What’s more, Kasidiaris’ account is not a stagnant one; in March, Kasidiaris’ video views jumped by nearly one million, and he clocked an extra 6,000 followers.
Social Blade estimates the monthly income generated by Ilias Kasidiaris’ account to be anywhere from €362 – €5.8K (€4.3K – €69.5K per year) [$400.12 – $6.4K; $4.7K – $76.8K per year], the discrepancy being related to the range of possible videos that can theoretically be monetized or not. If few videos are monetized, then the income earned from these videos is likely to be on the lower end, however, when we run the channel through isthischannelmonetized.com, it is clear that not only is the channel monetized, but so are most, if not all, its videos.
Advertisements are played before Kasidiaris’ videos, or placed on the side menu. They include smaller businesses such as Practicum.com, Zilkee.com, Clickup.com (x2), Buyrestofinisher.com, Buy-elitetac.com, Smile2impress.com, Betterhealth2023.com as well as larger companies like Ubuntu and Cheetos. The smaller companies often find themselves on objectionable content, presumably because of the size of the ad buy and YouTube’s advertising algorithm. This is far from the first time that YouTube has allowed hate groups to monetize their content. Global Project Against Hate and Extremism (GPAHE) previously reported that white supremacist Identitarian groups on YouTube were allowed to run ads by large companies such as VRBO.
Even though Golden Dawn leaders have been sentenced in a court of law for acting as a “criminal organization under the appearance of a political party, which appears to be in clear violation of YouTube’s “Violent extremist or criminal organizations policy,” other Golden Dawn accounts are also active on YouTube. Here is the list of accounts GPAHE was able to find with a basic search for “Χρυσή Αυγή” (Golden Dawn).
- Golden Dawn (ΧΡΥΣΗ ΑΥΓΗ) – 914 followers
- Golden Dawn (likely NIKOLAOS MICHALOLIAKOS’s account, now run by wife Ourania) (Χρυσή Αυγή) – 20,300 followers
- Golden Dawn – People’s Association (also possibly NIKOLAOS MICHALOLIAKOS’s account) (Χρυσή Αυγή – Λαϊκός Σύνδεσμος) – 21,800 followers
- Golden Dawn (ΧΡΥΣΗ ΑΥΓΗ) – 11,500 followers
Candidates, Leaders, and Elected Officials
- Christos Pappas (Golden Dawn leader sentenced to 13 years in prison in October 2020) (Χ Παππάς) – 788 followers
- Panagiotis Iliopoulos (Golden Dawn former member of the Greek Parliament) (Παναγιώτης Ηλιόπουλος) – 1,760 followers
- Ilias Panagiotaros (Golden Dawn former member of the Greek Parliament) – 77 followers
- Dimitrios Vogiatzis (local elected Golden Dawn leader) – 3,530 followers
- Dimitris Makris (Golden Dawn candidate) – 8 followers
Local Golden Dawn Groups
- Ierax GD – 3050 followers
- Golden Dawn of Etoloakarnania (Χρυσή Αυγή Αιτωλοακαρνανίας) – 127 followers
- GOLDEN DAWN OF CORFU (ΧΡΥΣΗ ΑΥΓΗ ΚΕΡΚΥΡΑΣ) – 111 followers
- Golden Dawn T.O. Athens (Χρυσή Αυγή Τ.Ο. Αθηνών) – 118 followers
- BLOOD HONOR GOLDEN DAWN – 3,550 followers
- Golden Dawn T.O. Serron (Χρυσή Αυγή Τ.Ο. Σερρών) – 145 followers
- Golden Dawn Ioannina (Χρυσή Αυγή Ιωάννινα) – 52 followers
- GOLDEN DAWN T.O. CORINTH (ΧΡΥΣΗ ΑΥΓΗ Τ.Ο. ΚΟΡΙΝΘΟΥ) – 9 followers
- GOLDEN DAWN REGIONAL ORGANIZATION AN. MACEDONIA AND THRACE (ΧΡΥΣΗ ΑΥΓΗ ΠΕΡΙΦΕΡΕΙΑΚΗ ΟΡΓΑΝΩΣΗ ΑΝ. ΜΑΚΕΔΟΝΙΑΣ ΚΑΙ ΘΡΑΚΗΣ) – 58 followers
Other Golden Dawn Accounts
- Imetaxas2016 – 10,300 followers
- imetaxas 2015 – 1980 followers
- Golden Dawn (Χρυσή Αυγή) – 5 followers
- Golden Dawn 2012 (Χρυσή Αυγή 2012) – 691 followers
- GOLDEN DAWN THE ONLY SOLUTION (ΧΡΥΣΗ ΑΥΓΗ Η ΜΟΝΗ ΛΥΣΗ) – 1,300 followers
- GOLDEN DAWN OF NORTH AMERICA (ΧΡΥΣΗ ΑΥΓΗ Β.ΑΜΕΡΙΚΗΣ) – 281 followers
- GOLDEN DAWN OF IONIAN ISLANDS (ΧΡΥΣΗ ΑΥΓΗ ΙΟΝΙΩΝ ΝΗΣΩΝ) – 3 followers
- GOLDEN DAWN ARTA (ΧΡΥΣΗ ΑΥΓΗ ΑΡΤΑ) – 11 followers
- GOLDEN DAWN Xanthi (ΧΡΥΣΗ ΑΥΓΗ ΞΑΝΘΗΣ) – 17 followers
- THE. KOMOTINIS (Golden Dawn group) – 3 followers
- Golden Dawn Yurgosh (ΓΙΩΡΓΟΣ χρυση αυγη) – 97 followers
- Golden Dawn (ΧΡΥΣΗ ΑΥΓΗ) – 1,950 followers
- Hrisi Avgi – 61 followers
It is also notable that while the accounts of Golden Dawn have long been suspended on other social media platforms, such as Facebook, YouTube has remained a holdout for more than a decade.
It is time for YouTube to act on its stated values. In the very least, extremist accounts like Kasidiaris’ should not be monetized. But, what YouTube should really do to protect its users and follow its own stated values is to take down all the channels from this banned neo-Nazi party and its members.
A previous version of this article referred incorrectly to Golden Dawn as being “officially declared an illegal criminal organization”. The party leadership were sentenced in a court of law for acting as a “criminal organization under the appearance of a political party,” but the party itself was not given this label.