Several people were injured and property burned down or damaged from molotov cocktails thrown by a handful of "anarchists" and hooded "indignant citizens" during a university students' demonstration in the centre of Athens, two days before the anniversary of the 1979 fall of the Greek colonels' junta.
The students were protesting against the education ministry's policies for higher education and in particular demonstrating their opposition to the abolition of free books and the foundation of private universities in Greece.
The demonstration, the largest in recent years, was organised by the Student Union Central Committee which managed to overcome its deep divisions and temporarily unify the students who marched to the education ministry demanding to see education secretary George Papandreou.
Strong police special units prevented a student delegation from entering the building and skirmishes took place between police officers and a number of students but more serious clashes were prevented.
The meeting with the education secretary was cancelled.
Mr Papandreou condemned the "handful of hooligans" and assured the students that the ministry would examine their demands. He reiterated that he had never been in favour of private universities but remained an adherent of a high quality free state education.
The students recall that Mr Papandreou proposed the constitutional change which many believe will open the way for the establishment of private universities.