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Belarus

Ukrainian Activists Home After Belarus Ordeal

Ukrainian Femen activists Aleksandra Nemchinova, Inna Shevchenko, and Oksana Shachko (left to right) speak to reporters at a hospital in the Belarusian town of Elsk on December 20.
Ukrainian Femen activists Aleksandra Nemchinova, Inna Shevchenko, and Oksana Shachko (left to right) speak to reporters at a hospital in the Belarusian town of Elsk on December 20.

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'Kidnapped' Activists In Belarus Police Custody

Police have located three female activists from a Ukrainian rights group who were allegedly kidnapped and terrorized by Belarusian security forces after protesting against the regime of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka.
By RFE/RL
MINSK -- Three Ukrainian activists who staged a topless protest in the Belarusian capital mocking President Alyaksandr Lykashenka have returned to Kyiv after allegedly being abducted, humiliated, and threatened by Belarusian intelligence officers, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry says the three -- identified as Aleksandra Nemchinova, Oksana Shachko, and Inna Shevchenko -- returned to Ukraine earlier in the day in the company of Kyiv's consul to Minsk.

Colleagues from Femen claimed the three were kidnapped from a Minsk bus station after their December 19 protest and driven to a remote forest area where they underwent a terrifying ordeal.

Femen says KGB agents stripped them naked before dousing them with flammable liquid and threatening to set them on fire.

Speaking at a news conference in Kyiv on December 21, Femen activist Inna Shevchenko maintained that her group won't stop because of threats.

"If they think that by this bullying they will break us, in response I can only laugh," she said. "We promise that we will continue coming to Belarus. We promise to support the Belarusian people. We will continue our work, now with greater strength."

The Belarusian KGB has called the protest outside its offices an "especially crude provocation" but denied ever holding the activists.

Locals in Byaki, where they later turned up, told RFE/RL's Belarus Service that the women had been left there and ordered to cross the border into Ukraine there.

Late on December 20, they were later said to be in Belarusian police custody.

Follow RFE/RL's Belarus Service's live updates on this story

Femen leader Anna Hutsol had described them as "alive but not in good health" and "very scared" in comments to RFE/RL's Belarus Service.

Femen sprung up in 2008 as a feminist rights group but has staged provocative stunts to focus media attention on an increasingly diverse range of international issues.

Bare-chested and wearing fake Lukashenka-style mustaches at the December 19 action, the women held placards that read "Freedom to political prisoners" and "Long live Belarus," a mantra of the protest movement.

Already notorious for their suppression of dissent, authorities in Belarus have clamped down further on public expressions of opposition since a flawed presidential election sparked street protests in December 2010.

with additional agency reporting
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Comments
     
by: flypaper from: NY
December 21, 2011 13:50
Well well....after acting like pigs in the Vatican, where they had their 15 minutes of fame. These idiots have now tried the same antics in their own backyard, it seems they were treated a lot different in Belarus.

So girls have you learned anything yet?

Its not the West thats your problem, its in your own backyard, stay home and fight for what you want and keep your public insults at home.
In Response

by: Joe from: Prague
December 21, 2011 19:44
The only idiot in this story is yourself. Bringing attention to a ruthless and lawless regime is an heroic act. Comentators sitting on sofas and writting opinions in the internet should be more respectful for those who protest, either you agree or not with the protest reasons.
In Response

by: flyupaper from: NY
December 23, 2011 01:42
Suck it up Joe in Prague,

I'm not defending Minsk or its politics, But I'm sure these bare breasted show offs learned a lesson, that its easy to be over the top in the West but not in some Eastern countries, and the same antics they did in the Vatican does not play well in Minsk.

by: CJP from: Saskatoon, Canada
December 21, 2011 18:56
The Femen girls may not hit the mark at all times, however they have brought attention to a number of pressing issues. Seems to me that politicians and insitutions do not act with any degree of "political correctness" so why should these lovely ladies??
In Response

by: Flypaper from: NY
December 23, 2011 01:50
CJP in Canada
Sorry but I find it hard to respect or even pay attention to or their message when they resort to such over the top stunt as going topless. To me it lowers any point they are trying to make to that of a topless bar. And when they do that in the Vatican, the spiritual center of over 1 billion Catholics they slip lower than a bar and go straight into the gutter.

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