Greece received 14.5 billion euros ($18 billion) in bailout loans from other European Union countries Tuesday, helping stave off default on around 9 billion euros of debt due a day later.
The loans from other countries that use the EU's joint currency, the euro, are part of a 110 billion euros ($136.52 billion) joint EU and International Monetary Fund rescue package to prevent Greece from defaulting on its debt and dealing a severe blow to the shared currency.
Athens has said it could not pay off its maturing debt without the emergency loans.
Greece received the first 5.5 billion euros from the IMF last week, and the first installment of the loan from its euro zone partners arrived on Tuesday, finance ministry sources said on condition of anonymity pending a formal announcement later in the day.
To secure the loans, the center-left government of Prime Minister George Papandreou has passed painful austerity measures, cutting salaries and pensions, raising consumer taxes and pledging to crack down on rampant tax evasion.
The measures have led to a backlash by labor unions, who have staged a series of strikes in recent months. Three people died during a general strike on May 5, when they became trapped in a bank torched by protesters after a demonstration in Athens turned violent. Another general strike set for Thursday is to shut down all public services and disrupt public transport.
Schools will shut down, state hospitals will function on emergency staff, while all ferries will remain tied up at port. Journalists will also walk off the job, pulling news broadcasts off the air. But air traffic controllers are not expted to join the strike, leaving the country's airports open.
Two major demonstrations are planned in Athens against the austerity measures.
In an embarrassment for the government, the country's deputy tourism minister resigned late Monday after tax officials said her husband, a popular singer and former film star, owes millions of euros in unpaid taxes.
Angela Gerekou, a 51-year-old former actress who once posed topless for a Greek men's magazine, stepped down hours after the scandal broke in a daily newspaper.
Her departure comes at the start of the vacation season, with hoteliers worried by recent mass cancellations of bookings after demonstrations in Athens against the austerity measures turned violent. No replacement has been announced.
Gerekou resigned "for reasons of sensitivity and sensibility, so that there cannot be the slightest pretext to hurt the government," the government said in a statement, adding that she claimed she had no involvement in the tax affairs of her husband, Tolis Voskopoulos.
The finance ministry confirmed Voskopoulos faces criminal prosecution for 5.5 million euros ($6.8 million) in unpaid taxes and fines. It said the cases have not yet come to court, but Voskopoulos' real estate assets have been frozen.
Voskopoulos, 70, is one of the best-known representatives of Greece's older generation of popular singers and nightclub stars.
Greek authorities recently published the names of alleged high-profile tax cheats, mostly doctors accused of not issuing receipts, and are seeking to catch tax evaders by using satellite photos to spot undeclared swimming pools — an indicator of taxable wealth.
The government has also pledged to make collection of the estimated billions in unpaid taxes a priority.
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