Swiss policemen arrest an activist from FEMEN during their topless protest today
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. Separately, demonstrators from the Occupy movement marched to the edge of the gathering.
After a complicated journey to reach the heavily guarded Swiss resort town of Davos, the Ukrainians arrived at the entrance to the complex where the World Economic Forum takes place every year.
With temperatures around freezing in the snow-filled town, they took off their tops and tried to climb 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 told that they weren’t allowed to demonstrate. He said they would be released later Saturday.
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 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 Inna Schewcenko.
Protesters from the Occupy movement that started with opposition to 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 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 Saturday shoppers looked on with bemusement.
The demonstrators chanted anti-capitalist slogans, remaining about 100 feet (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; 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. The discussion then resumed, without the Occupy panelist.