By Stefanos Evripidou
A 33-YEAR-OLD Nicosia man fired a single shot in the air with a military-issued assault rifle outside parliament on Monday afternoon to protest against the country’s economic woes, police said.
A little after 3pm, the man turned up outside parliament and fired the shot before handing the gun and himself over to police on duty at the legislature.
No injuries were reported. The man was arrested and detained for questioning.
Acting Nicosia CID head Andreas Lambrianos said the man told police he took the shot “in protest at the economic situation prevailing in Cyprus today”.
He added that the rifle used was issued by the National Guard as part of the man’s military reservist obligations.
“It is an issue which certainly concerns us because many people, reservists, have National Guard military rifles in their possession,” said Lambrianos.
The 33-year-old is being investigated in connection with charges of illegal transportation of an assault rifle and explosive material.
In September this year in Limassol, a 32-year-old man shot and killed his estranged wife, 27, injured his 10-year-old daughter on her hand, and then took his own life, using his army-issued assault rifle.
The National Guard has followed a policy of issuing firearms to reservists along with ammunition, normally kept at home, since 1994.
At the time, Defence Minister Fotis Fotiou said: “It is linked with the National Guard’s operational needs,” adding that reservists where the force’s core.
Yesterday’s single shot is the first such act since the European Commission, ECB, and IMF, collectively known as the troika, bailed out Cyprus to the tune of €10 billion in March, demanding in return a raid on uninsured deposits in the island’s two biggest banks.
The near collapse of the banking system and raid on deposits saw the country’s economy shrink as businesses closed down and unemployment soared, while the government has imposed a series of troika-led cuts in social spending.