ISTANBUL - Turkey's deputy prime minister said on Wednesday he had no objection to silent anti-government protests inspired by a symbolic "Standing Man" vigil, comments that could help draw the sting out of three weeks of often violent demonstrations.
Protests against Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's government have become increasingly creative in recent days, as police and demonstrators seek to avoid the fierce clashes that have dented Turkey's reputation for stability in the volatile Middle East.
Police fired teargas and water cannon to disperse around 5,000 demonstrators in the northern city of Eskisehir overnight, Dogan news agency said, and there were small disturbances in Ankara, but on nowhere near the scale of previous weeks.
In Istanbul, the cradle of the unrest that has unsettled markets and presented Erdogan with the greatest public challenge of his 10-year rule, a sense of calm returned to streets around the central Taksim Square that saw nights of running battles.
Hundreds of protesters stood silently on squares including Taksim, as well as in Ankara and other cities, taking their lead from a performance artist whose eight-hour vigil on Monday lit up social media and made him the new face of the protests.
"These kinds of protests should be encouraged," Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc told reporters in Ankara. "They involve no violence, but still are successful in conveying messages, and we should welcome these messages."