As the drama unfolded in the Parliament building in Nicosia yesterday, thousands of protesters assembled in nearby Lena Stylianou Square to express their disgust at the situation Cyprus finds itself in.

Chanting "Troika get out!" the demonstrators were kept several hundred metres from Parliament by riot barriers and lines of police.

Amid the crowds, Marina, a 44-year-old housewife, said she wanted Cyprus to avoid retracing Greece's footsteps: "We want a referendum, the Government must fall and allow us to decide on what we want."

Her friends agreed. "Look at what happened to our neighbour [Greece], we don't want to become like them."


Kostakis, a 60-year-old public servant, also roundly rejected European help. "We prefer to help our country by lending our money straight to the state. They can return it in a few years with interest - it beats becoming a colony of the Troika."

One of the island's most important law firms, Vassiliades & Co, said its Russian clients had almost all said they would move their deposits as soon as financial institutions in Cyprus reopened.

"We have the exact same amount of Russian interests in Cyprus as in the South of France, but the EU doesn't seem to be that preoccupied by that," said Chris Vassiliades. He added that most of his Russian clients were thinking of transferring their funds to France.

"If Russians leave Cyprus, the island will be destroyed," said 40-year-old George.

Elias, a Cypriot who owns a mini-market in the heart of Nicosia, said, "If they leave, I might as well close my shop."

- Independent