NICOSIA (Reuters) - Clashes broke out between police and activists in Cyprus on Saturday during a protest against corruption and lockdown measures imposed over the COVID-19 pandemic, witnesses said.
Police used water cannon and tear gas in an attempt to break up the gathering of several hundred people just beyond the medieval walls in Nicosia, the capital of the east Mediterranean island, Reuters witnesses said.
At least one person who said he was struck on the head by police was taken to hospital.
Cyprus has been rocked by allegations of graft in a lucrative citizenship-for-investment programme, which was abruptly cancelled last November after a senior state official was secretly filmed allegedly offering to arrange a passport for a fictitious Chinese investor with a criminal record.
Despite the scheme being halted, uproar over the scandal-hit scheme has persisted, with comments from opposition politicians, newspaper editorials and from ordinary Cypriots on social media pointing to endemic corruption.
“Partition and corruption go hand-in-hand,” wrote one banner held by protesters, referring to the ongoing division of Cyprus. Another said: “Its Capitalism, Stupid!” with a picture of a Cypriot passport.
The use of violence at protests in Cyprus is highly unusual.
Authorities had banned the gathering, citing restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus. Those restrictions allow people out twice a day for mainly essential errands.
Reporting by Michele Kambas; Editing by Helen Popper
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