Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis entered a war of words in parliament on Friday with main opposition leader Alexis Tsipras over recent incidents of police brutality.

Tsipras attacked Mitsotakis in his speech in parliament, accusing the prime minister “of choosing tension and division” as a main strategy.

“I accuse you because, at the most crucial time for our society, when the citizens are under pressure and in despair due to the pandemic, you attempted to shirk your responsibilities by choosing tension and division as your main strategy,” Tsipras said.

Mitsotakis replied saying “the citizens understand who is investing in the idea of unity and who is stoking social tensions.”

He rejected the criticism against his government, and stressed the importance of pulling it together in the “crucial weeks that lie ahead of us.”

“Rage cannot be blind. You, Mr. Tsipras are not my enemy. Our enemy is the coronavirus. In times like these, societies need unity, solidarity,” he said.

“You had the opportunity to rise to the occasion and do what you hypocritically stated you are interested in, Mr. Tsipras. Instead, I counted the word ‘accuse’ 17 times. I return the accusation because you embody hypocrisy,” the prime minister said.

The debate was initiated after a police officer was videotaped hitting brutally a young citizen repeatedly during a police check on compliance with COVID-19 restrictions in Athens’ suburb of Nea Smyrni on Sunday.

The footage went viral and sparked outrage among citizens resulting in a demonstration against police brutality on Tuesday.

Some 5,000 people gathered in Nea Smyrni in response to the video with demonstrators holding banners reading “cops out of our neighborhoods.”

The demonstration ended with the serious injury of a police officer after being violently pulled off his bike and beaten by protesters.

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