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21 Mar, 2013 18:53

Protests in Cyprus as government postpones crucial legislation debate (PHOTOS)

Angry protesters gathered outside the parliament building in Nicosia Thursday to protest against the government’s handling of the banking crisis, while talks aimed at tackling it got moved to Friday.

Cyprus's lawmakers have decided to postpone the crucial debate on an emergency legislation to combat the country's economic unrest, citing a need for more time. The so-called 'Solidarity Fund' would require the imposition of tough controls on banks, in an attempt to secure a much needed bailout from the European Union.

About 100 Cypriots have been protesting in the capital Nicosia over possible job cuts and the ongoing banking crisis. 

The demonstrators tried to enter the building but were pushed back by police, according to the Ria Novosti news agency. No injuries were reported in the clashes.

The protesters are also venting their angry that Laika bank, one of Cyprus’ largest banks, which is at the center of the banking crisis, may have to close down altogether and is almost certainly facing job cuts.

Eurozone finance minsters have acknowledged that the situation in Cyprus is “in a mess”.

RT’s Tesa Arcilla who is in Cyprus went to talk to locals and found that many were getting increasingly desperate.

A Russian shop owner in Cyprus says he has lost 70% of business in the last few days and doesn’t know how he will pay his rent. Many shops and businesses on the island are now only accepting cash.

The Cyprus Popular Bank imposed a 260 euro per day limit on ATM withdrawals on Thursday.

Tesa Arcilla reports that a poll of Cypriots found that 67% want to exit the euro zone and instead want closer ties with Russia.

A Cypriot empoyee of the Laiki (Popular) Bank cries as she holds a placard reading in Greek, Russian and English "Merkel Caput" during a protest outside the Parliament on March 21, 2013 in Nicosia (AFP Photo / Patrick Baz)

The European Union has given Cyprus until Monday to raise the 5.8 billion Euros it must contribute to clinch an international bailout deal or face the collapse of its financial system and almost certain withdrawal from the Euro.

The government have been having emergency meetings to try and resolve the crisis and hammer out a deal, with an announcement expected on Thursday evening. Any agreement reached by the Cypriot government must then be agreed on by parliament. 

The EU is ready to banish the island from the Euro in the belief that it will contain damage to the wider European economy.

The European Central Bank has kept Cypriot banks operating on a liquidity lifeline, but it will be cut off on Monday if a deal is not in place.

Cypriot police faces demonstrators during a protest outside the Parliament on March 21, 2013 in Nicosia (AFP Photo / Patrick Baz)
Cypriots hold placards during a protest outside the Parliament on March 21, 2013 in Nicosia (AFP Photo / Patrick Baz)