Protester Attacks Draghi At News Conference

The president of the European Central Bank has been interrupted at a news conference by a protester shouting “end ECB dictatorship”.

Mario Draghi was outlining the bank’s latest monetary policy thinking when a lone woman jumped onto the desk above Mr Draghi and showered him with items including what looked like confetti and sheets of paper.

The bank suspended the video feed of the news conference as security officials grabbed her but she flashed a V for victory sign and smiled as two men in grey suits took her away holding her arms and legs.

Mr Draghi, who had held up his hands as protection, looked shocked but was apparently unhurt and continued his presentation shortly afterwards.

The Reuters news agency reported that activist group Femen was claiming responsibility for the incident on Twitter – although some sources suggested the protester was believed to have left the feminist movement.

Speculation on the woman’s motive could also focus on the renewed financial troubles in Greece, which has yet to secure additional bailout funds from its creditors, including the ECB.

Some activists accuse the bank of trying to enforce budget austerity measures on eurozone countries, such as Greece, that are under financial bailout programmes.

There is likely to be an investigation into how she managed to get into the news conference.

The bank’s Governing Council had earlier left the ECB’s benchmark interest rates on hold following signs its policy tools, including quantitative easing, were having a positive effect on demand in the eurozone economy.

But Mr Draghi sought to play down market speculation the ECB would scale back its QE plans as a response, saying he was “surprised” by such talk.

He insisted the bank expected to fully implement its €1tn government bond-buying programme until September 2016, as previously announced.

“Our focus will be on the full implementation of our policy measures,” he said but added that the programme was “flexible enough” to be adjusted if necessary.

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