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Protests Erupt Outside Swiss National Bank Ahead Of Davos

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SWISS NATIONAL BANK PROTESTS
AP


(Adds detail on attendees in paragraphs 6-7)

ZURICH, Jan 18 (Reuters) - Swiss police said on Wednesday they had arrested two men suspected of throwing red paint and scrawling "SMASH WEF" (World Economic Forum) in black graffiti on the walls of the Swiss National Bank.

Several people are believed to have smeared paint on two sides of the central bank building in Zurich during the night, causing damage in the tens of thousands of Swiss francs (dollars).

The two suspects apprehended are Swiss men aged 20 and 25, police said.

Anger against income inequality and the perceived greed of the rich and powerful fed the Occupy Wall Street Movement that spurned copy-cat protests in cities in the United States and elsewhere, including Zurich.

Occupy protesters are building an igloo camp in the Swiss ski resort of Davos, where the global elite will gather for the World Economic Forum next week.

Among those expected at the Jan. 25-29 gathering are Bill Gates, Desmond Tutu, Citigroup Chief Executive Vikram Pandit, Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney and London Mayor Boris Johnson, as well as the president of newly formed South Sudan, two candidates for the Egyptian presidency and, for the first time in at least two decades, a minister from Myanmar.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will give the keynote speech and is likely to be a focus of attention as a key player in the economic crisis, along with U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and IMF head Christine Lagarde, who are also attending.

The Swiss National Bank's reputation has taken a blow after Chairman Philipp Hildebrand was forced to step down last week following uproar over a currency trade made by his wife. (Reporting by Caroline Copley; Editing by Alessandra Rizzo)

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