ANNEMASSE, France (Reuters) - Thousands of French and Swiss police and troops took up positions around picturesque Lake Geneva on Sunday in a massive security operation to shield a G8 summit from anti-capitalist protests.
Despite vows by protest organizers that there would be no repeat of the mayhem in the Italian city of Genoa two years ago during a similar meeting of the "Group of Eight," anarchists clashed in Annemasse on Saturday with police who responded with tear gas.
There were no reports of injuries or arrests.
Leaders of eight powerful developed economies, including President Bush, and a handful of specially invited heads of state from developing countries meet in the French lakeside resort of Evian June 1-3.
But with the narrow roads to the easily defended spa blocked by security forces, protesters will march in nearby Annemasse and in Geneva, just over the frontier in Switzerland, along with Lausanne, which is directly across the lake from Evian.
Late on Saturday, activists staged a protest "ring of fire" around the lake with dozens of bonfires lighting the night sky.
Despite the tension that has marked the run-up to the summit, with many shops and businesses in the three towns closed and boarded up, much of the protest activity has been peaceful and good-humored.
A group of about 20 Dutch activists danced naked near the Jet d'Eau, the 140-meter (460-ft) water jet that is a Geneva landmark, in protest at what they said was the plundering of the developing world's assets, including water, by rich states.
Protesters accuse the G8 chiefs of acting like "Masters of the Universe" and say the poorer national leaders invited to the summit -- who include Brazil's new left-wing President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva -- will leave with nothing.
The G8 includes Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia as well as the United States.
But the number of demonstrators on Sunday is likely to fall below the 300,000 organizers once hoped for, with many expecting only some 50,000 in Annemasse and Geneva.
"I have a bad feeling about it. Unfortunately, many people are going to measure the success of the march by the number of demonstrators," said Bernard Cassen, president of French group Attac, one of the organizers.
Police put up barricades on both sides of the French-Swiss border to prevent protesters moving off permitted routes. Army helicopters clattered overhead.
In Lausanne, a number of groups denouncing the G8 leaders tried to block water traffic across the lake to prevent officials reaching the summit -- due to kick off around midday.
While most G8 leaders are staying around Evian, about a dozen prime ministers and presidents who are summit guests, including China's Hu Jintao, will stay in Lausanne and travel across Lake Geneva from the Swiss to the French side.
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