Draghi Press Conference Disrupted as Protester Jumps on Desk

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Draghi Attacked by Protester at ECB Press Conference

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi’s press conference was briefly suspended on Wednesday after a protester jumped on the table in front of him and disrupted proceedings.

The woman shouted “End the ECB dictatorship” and threw confetti before she was pulled from the desk and led away by security. Draghi was also huddled away while staff in Frankfurt dealt with the situation. An unverified Twitter feed describing itself to represent activist group Femen claimed responsibility.

The ECB president was uninjured and resumed speaking shortly after, gathering the loose sheets of his opening statement as he tried to find his place. Police arrested the unidentified woman and the central bank said it’s investigating the breach of security at its new 1.3 billion-euro ($1.4 billion) building, which was formally opened last month. It declined to comment further.

“Initial findings suggest that the activist registered as journalist for a news organization she does not represent,” the ECB said in a statement. “Like all visitors to the ECB, she went through an identity check, metal detector and x-ray of her bag, before entering the building.”

Topless Protests

Members of Femen, an international feminist organization, have protested topless in countries including Ukraine, Italy, Brazil, Tunisia and France, according to its website. A previous incident in Germany took place in Cologne Cathedral on Christmas Day 2013.

A call to a Ukraine-based phone number listed on Femen’s website was disconnected and subsequent calls to both the Ukraine and an additional French number went answered as did e-mails. The organization’s German website doesn’t feature electronic contact details.

The incident on Wednesday followed clashes last month between police and anti-austerity demonstrators in Frankfurt. Those rallies coincided with the inauguration of the ECB tower on March 18 and police responded with water cannons as they sought to quell the violence.

“Let me start with the positive,” Draghi said as he resumed his press conference and gave an upbeat assessment of the impact of the ECB’s latest stimulus.

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