Monday 30 January 2012


THREE topless Ukrainian protesters were detained Sunday as they bid to break into an invitation-only gathering of CEOs and political leaders to call attention to the needs of the world's poor.

With temperatures around freezing in the snow-filled Swiss resort town of Davos, they took off their tops and tried to climb a fence before being detained.

After a complicated journey to reach the heavily guarded town, the Ukrainians arrived at the entrance to the complex where the World Economic Forum takes place every year.

'Crisis! Made in Davos,' read one message painted across a protester's torso, while others held banners that said 'Poor, because of you' and 'Gangsters party in Davos.'

Davos police spokesman Thomas Hobi said the three women were taken to the police station and told that they weren't allowed to demonstrate.

He said they would be released later.

The activists are from the group Femen, which has become popular in Ukraine for staging small, half-naked protests to highlight a range of issues including oppression of political opposition.

Activists of the Ukrainian feminist nudity group FEMEN demonstrate as Swiss police officers look on during a protest at the 42nd Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland

Activists of the Ukrainian feminist nudity group FEMEN demonstrate as Swiss police officers look on during a protest at the 42nd Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. They have also conducted protests in other countries.

"We came here to Switzerland to Davos to explain the position of all poor people of the world, to explain that we are poor because of these rich people who now sit in the building," said protester Inna Schewcenko.

They were joined by demonstrators from the Occupy movement, which started with opposition to practices on Wall Street, who marched separately to the edge of the gathering.

They held a separate demonstration in Davos and a small group of their protesters are now camped in igloos in Davos to call for more help for the needy. About 40 Occupy protesters gathered in front of the town hall.

Some held placards with slogans such as "If voting would change anything, it would be illegal" and "Don't let them decide for you, Occupy WEF."

They then marched toward the forum, prompting about a dozen police officers to hastily erect a mobile barrier as shoppers looked on with bemusement.

Swiss policemen arresting an activist from FEMEN during their topless protestThe demonstrators chanted anti-capitalist slogans, remaining about 30 meters from police lines.

One member of the Occupy camp was invited to speak at a special event outside the forum on Friday night to discuss the future of capitalism, while British opposition leader Ed Miliband was also speaking.

Soon after the panel discussion began, some activists in the audience jumped up and started chanting slogans, and the protester panelist walked off the stage.

Other members of the audience told the activists to "shut up" and arguments disrupted the panel for about 20 minutes.

During the summit, however, the UN trade chief urged global leaders to focus much more on reducing inequalities around the world than constantly looking to appease financial markets.

Supachai Panitchpakdi, the head of the UN Conference on Trade and Development, pointed to protests at the forum and around the world to highlight the growing disparity between frustrated unemployed young people, who have no voice, and the financiers who continue to reap huge salaries.

He said: "Today we do everything to please the financial markets and you can see the financial market going and going, but they don't serve the real economy. They serve themselves". (Daily Mail, UK)

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