Topless protesters detained at Davos forum

By Frank Jordans

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, Jan. 28 2012 6:45 a.m. MST

A topless Ukrainian protester is arrested by Swiss police after climbing up a fence at the entrance to the congress center where the World Economic Forum takes place in Davos, Switzerland Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012. The activists are from the group Femen, which has have become popular in Ukraine for staging small, half-naked protests against a range of issues including oppression of political opposition.

Anja Niedringhaus, Associated Press

DAVOS, Switzerland — Three topless Ukrainian protesters were detained Saturday while trying to break into an invitation-only gathering of international CEOs and political leaders to call attention to the needs of the world's poor.

After a complicated journey to reach the heavily guarded Swiss resort town of Davos, the women arrived at the entrance to the congress center where the World Economic Forum takes place every year.

With temperatures around freezing in the snow-filled town, they took off their tops and climbed a fence before being detained. "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 their papers were checked. They were told that they weren't allowed to demonstrate, and will be released later, he said.

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. They have also conducted protests in some other countries.

"We came here to Switzerland to Davos to explain 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.

Protesters from the Occupy movement that started with protests against practices on Wall Street held a separate demonstration in Davos on Saturday. A small group of protesters are camped in igloos in Davos to call for more help for the needy.

About 40 protesters from the Occupy movement 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." The event has been peaceful.

A member of the Occupy camp was invited to speak at a special event outside the Forum on Friday night discussing the future of capitalism attended by British opposition leader Ed Miliband.

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. The discussion then resumed, without the Occupy panelist.

Anja Niedringhaus and Paolo Santalucia contributed to this report.

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