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Society

Cyprus’ Relentless Anti-Corruption Protesters Will Take to Streets Again

February 17, 2021

NICOSIA — With a probe set to review alleged police brutality against anti-corruption demonstrators, the protesters said they won’t be deterred from their mission against the government of President Nicos Anastasiades.

The campaigners said they will protest again on Feb. 20, a week after a violent police assault on protesters in the capital Nicosia on Feb. 20, aimed against corruption and the now defunct Golden Visa program selling residency and European Union passports to rich foreigners without proper checking for criminal activity.

The protests were also opposed to the slowly being eased lockdown aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 with the government hoping to open to tourists as soon as March with the pandemic still going on.

With public gatherings banned, police moved to break up the demonstration, trying to corral demonstrators and using water cannon and tear gas against the, the protesters saying they were acting peacefully when attacked.

Several people were injured, including a 25-year-old woman hit by a volley of water as she held her arms up and danced in the street. She underwent emergency surgery to save her eyesight said Reuters in a report on planned new protests.

“The government deployed police brutality to cancel our demonstration on Saturday but we will not succumb to oppression,” one of the protest organizers who wasn’t named told the news agency.

The violence set off outcries and calls for Justice Minister Emily Yiolitis, who said the police acted too aggressively, to resign as she was already fighting an image of being out of touch.

It’s unusual for protests in Cyprus to turn violent but three months after the Golden Visa scheme was pulled after scandals, with Anastasiades targeted as his family’s law firm was providing services to the rich foreigners, there’s still anger.

He had staunchly defended the program that the European Union said was open to money laundering and a way for foreign criminals to hide their cash, the scheme withdrawn after the Al Jazeera network showed politicians allegedly willing to speed a passport for a fictitious investor with a criminal record.

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