© Reuters. Cypriots march peacefully against corruption and COVID-19 restriction measures in Nicosia
NICOSIA (Reuters) – Thousands of Cypriots protesting coronavirus restrictions and corruption marched peacefully on Saturday against a gathering ban.
At the event, which came after police crackdown on an earlier protest that sparked widespread criticism last week, protesters with flowers and banners marched through a central thoroughfare in the capital Nicosia to the island’s parliament.
Protesters wearing face masks were observed from a distance by police.
Cyprus, which has outperformed most other countries in managing the pandemic, has been in lockdown for about a year. However, the disclosure of perceived corruption from a pass-for-investment scheme has fueled public discontent.
“I have the feeling that my future is hanging by a thread. There are no jobs, but the rulers and their friends get rich,” said a protester who was identified only as Ioanna, 24.
A minor protest, held on February 13th, received a violent response from police, who clashed with protesters and used water cannons. The incident sparked a police investigation and the island’s Justice Minister admitted that some scenes showed a disproportionate response.
On Saturday, the water cannon was kept at a distance and parked about two kilometers away in the medieval walls of the capital Nicosia.
The passport system was abruptly withdrawn by the authorities last year after the Al Jazeera news network showed people allegedly willing to facilitate citizenship for a fictitious investor with a criminal record, and whom they subsequently refused. The system is also being examined by an independent commission of inquiry.
“Down with the partitionist junta,” read a banner with the word “Partitionist”, a play about the name of President Nicos Anastasiades, which referred to the ethnic division of the island populated by Greek and Turkish Cypriots.
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