Femen founders—known for topless protests—flee Ukraine with allegations against Vladimir Putin
Government persecution has forced Femen founders to flee Ukraine, where the militant feminist group was created in 2008.
According to a statement on the Femen website, they were "systematically harassed, severely beaten, kidnapped, and repeatedly received threats" in July.
Femen maintains that Russian and Ukrainian special services perpetrated these acts under instructions from Russian president Vladimir Putin and his close ally, Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych.
"FEMEN officially says fuck off to all dictators," the group declares defiantly on its website.
Femen reveals that Yana Zhdanova, Anna Hutsol, and Alexandra Shevchenko were summoned on August 30 to face charges.
According to an interview cofounder Shevchenko granted to the Kyiv Post, the three women, along with Femen's Iksana Shachko, had escaped to Paris.
Last month, the Straight reported that Femen supporter Viktor Svyatsky, a Ukrainian political scientist, was assaulted. He was warned "the girls will be next" if anyone protested an upcoming Putin visit to Kiev.
Femen protesters invariably remove their tops showing slogans across their breasts and backs. They target right-wing politicians, patriarchal religious groups, and those who discriminate against the LBGT community, including Putin.
Putin's government has introduced the most repressive antigay legislation among G8 countries, threatening to arrest anyone even suspected of being gay.
Femen has chapters in many countries, including Canada. The Canadian group's Facebook page carries this message: "Our God is woman, our mission is to protest, our weapons are our bodies."