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RT correspondent caught in Athens anarchist protest, teargassed

RT correspondent Ilya Petrenko was teargassed by police as he got caught in clashes between security forces and radical left Antarsya coalition supporters during a protest on the capital’s central Syntagma Square.

Clashes between police and protestors erupted during two simultaneous rallies held by radical left Antarsya coalition and the Communist Party in Athens on Thursday. Both parties took to the streets to call for the Greeks to vote ‘No’ in the referendum on Sunday.

Debt crisis: Will Greece exit euro? LIVE UPDATES

The rally was initially peaceful, but “tensions have been rising in the last few minutes,” Petrenko said over the phone. “One activist apparently wanted to climb a ladder to stick a poster on the [EU office building] and that’s when police intervened and used teargas.”

“People started running away. There were some scuffles and fighting erupted. But it was quickly dispersed.”

He added that the situation is currently quite “chaotic” and police are on stand-by.

The Eurogroup of the EU finance ministers has announced that the debt talks will be halted until Greece votes either to accept the international lenders’ conditions or not.

Greek PM Alexis Tsipras addressed the people in a televised address on Wednesday saying that he is committed to the referendum, but Greece needs new reforms, different from the ones international lenders are insisting on. He also called the statements about expelling Greece from the Eurozone made by EU leaders a “bluff.”

Greece’s defiant Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis has pledged to resign if Greeks would vote to accept the current proposals made by Athens’ creditors. He added that he would rather 'cut his arm off' than sign a deal that doesn’t include debt reorganization.

READ MORE: Greeks will vote ‘Yes’ over bailout terms, polls and bookmakers suggest

Several surveys conducted ahead of the vote hint that the people tend to vote ‘Yes.’ According to a GOP for BNP Paribas poll, 47.1 percent said they will vote ‘Yes’ while 43.2 percent said they are inclined to a ‘No’ vote. Another survey conducted by Reuters also hints at a ‘Yes’ vote.

While Greek banks have remained closed since Sunday and ATMs have limited the cash withdrawals to 60 euros a day, Tsipras assured the Greeks on Thursday that this "will not last long." Speaking on ANT1 television, he blamed Greece’s Eurozone partners that forced the European Central Bank to freeze vital funding to the banks. He assured that Athens will break a deal with creditors within 48 hours of the referendum.