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Missing Femen Activists Turn Up In Ukrainian Police Custody

  • RFE/RL

Three activists with the radical feminist Femen movement and a Russian photographer have spent the night in police custody after being detained on July 27.

The four were fined by a Kyiv court on July 28 for hooliganism and disobeying an order from police and then released.

The group claimed on July 28 that the four had been snatched off a street in Kyiv by unknown assailants in civilian clothes the previous afternoon.

Femen activist Anna Hutsol was present outside the courthouse when the four were released. With her right eye blackened and nearly swollen shut from a beating she received on July 26, Hutsol described for journalists what happened to her fellow activists and the photographer.

"We planned a 1630 protest against the visit of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin in the center of the city. The protest was supposed to be called 'Putin, go to hell!'" she said.

"When the Femen activists and photographer Dmitry Kostukov were leaving the apartment block to get a cab, they were attacked by a group of unidentified people, who started beating them up and pushed them into a vehicle."

Police say the four were detained for disobeying police orders when the three activists-- Oleksandra Shevchenko, Yana Zhdanova, and Oksana Shachko -- were posing topless.

"Naturally, I was sure that as a journalist, no one was going to touch me," Kostukov the photographer said.

"It's clear that they can keep me from photographing or request that I don't take photographs, but that they quickly flew in, cursing, put my face in the asphalt and started to beat us. It was an absolutely unjustified beating, because no one resisted them."

And Kostukov said police told him who the assailants were. "Later, when we were talking to police, they told us straightforward, that these were SBU [Ukrainian Security Service] agents."

Femen claims its activists have been beaten and harassed in the run-up to the visit to Ukraine by Russian President Vladimir Putin and other guests to mark the 1,025th anniversary of the Christianization of Kievan Rus.

Femen said on July 26 that a "political consultant" for the group, Viktor Svyatskiy, was savagely assaulted the previous evening. Femen blamed the SBU for the attack on Svyatskiy as well.

With reporting by AFP and Interfax