First Lady Of Femen: Topless 'Sextremist' Relishes Presidential Challenges

Anzhelina Diash faces up to five years in prison for this protest in July in Kyiv, in which the slogan "Long Live Belarus!' was written on her bare chest during the signing of bilateral agreements between Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and visiting President Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

The topless storming of photo ops for heavily guarded heads of state takes determination, courage, and some cunning.

But it can also take a toll in other ways.

Anzhelina Diash, who is becoming an expert on such guerrilla tactics on presidents for the protest group Femen, says that in addition to jail time she recently lost her job as a kindergarten teacher in Kyiv because of her activism.

Her firing came after she charged toward befuddled Czech President Milos Zeman with "Zeman Putin's Slut" painted on her bare bosom, screaming the same slogan, as he was voting in Prague in the first round of his successful reelection bid.

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Topless Activist Confronts Czech President In Polling Station

"I was fired because of Femen," Diash told RFE/RL on February 7. "I know there were some parents [of students] who were very embarrassed and unhappy because of my Femen work."

The twentysomething native of the western Ukrainian city of Khmelnytskyy added that she was also dismissed from an online publication for which she had been writing about fashion and reviewing restaurants.

"I just think that some people are too conservative, and it is difficult for them to have someone [working for them] who...does something special...something [irregular]."

But she vowed to continue with her Femen activities, despite the professional setbacks.

"I know that I was a good teacher…I'm not frustrated, I'm looking forward. I know I will find something new for me," she says.

Diash has been in Femen -- the group calls its seminaked ranks "sextremists" -- for about eight years.

"Because of my skin [color], I'm used to fighting for my rights," says Diash, whose father was a medical student from Angola when he married her mother, a Ukrainian.

"It is very rare that you can [see] in the streets [of Kyiv] some black girl," she says. "It's in my blood to fight for some [correct] things, and that is why Femen is my cup of tea."

Diash has chalked up a number of operations targeting Eastern European strongmen.

Diash poses outside a Kyiv police station in August: "I believe that if you want to change something in our world we should speak out."

Before her Zeman protest asserting an overly cozy relationship between the Czech leader and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Diash staged a demonstration in July against authoritarian Belarusian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka while he was meeting in Kyiv with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

"We are [advocating] for democracy and we don't think that our president should meet such people like Lukashenka and to make some deals with this person," she says. "This action was against [Ukraine having] any relations with a dictator. Dictators...are not our friends at all if you want to live in a free and democratic country."

The Lukashenka protest led to charges of hooliganism and resisting police, and Diash faces a prison sentence of up to five years if found guilty.

Femen boasts on its website that "Our Mission is Protest! Our Weapon are (sic) bare breasts!" It adds, "Femen's naked attacks is (sic) a naked nerve of the historic woman-system conflict, its most visual and appropriate illustration."

Diash says she received hundreds of social-media messages from Czechs saying they supported her Zeman protest. One group even made up and sold T-shirts that borrowed Femen's "Zeman Putin's Slut" accusation.

Diash wearing a shirt that says: "Poroshenko = Lukashenka"

Diash, who complained of poor treatment by Czech police while jailed for two days in Prague, was banned from entering the country for one year and required to leave within three days after she was released by court order on January 14.

"We knew about Zeman and knew that he is not supporting Ukraine; he supports Russia and the dictator Putin," she says, adding that Femen was offended by comments Zeman made about Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula belonging to Russia.

Russia annexed Crimea in early 2014 in a land grab that was overwhelmingly condemned in a UN vote.

"We found out that Zeman would like to be president one more time, so we decided to do something, to tell [Czechs], 'No way. Look, if you want this man to become your president one more time, it could be dangerous for your country,'" says Diash, who posed as a journalist and stood with other members of the media before stripping off her shirt and running at the frail, 73-year-old president.

Zeman, who won a second-round runoff on January 27, said after Diash's protest that he was "honored" to have been targeted by Femen because they had also attacked the Catholic Church at the Vatican.

Diash protested against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a World Cup qualifying football match in Kharkiv, Ukraine, in September, a move that received widespread media attention.

Perhaps Diash's most famous protest came on September 2, before a World Cup qualifying match between Ukraine and Turkey held in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv.

Just moments before the start of the game, Diash sprinted onto the field topless with the words "Erdogan Killer" written on her chest.

The game was being watched by millions in Ukraine, Turkey, and elsewhere, and her protest against the "dictatorial regime" of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan got widespread media attention.

Some of her less publicized protests have targeted Poroshenko and his Roshen chocolate empire and U.S. President Donald Trump.

Diash doesn't know why she was the one to have carried out the "personal" protests against Zeman and Lukashenka.

"Maybe because I'm the crazy one. I don't think about why it happens. I don't think that I am some special one. It just happened [that way]," she says.

Despite pleas from her mother -- who worries about her being imprisoned -- that she should cut back on her activities for Femen, Diash says she will continue.

"I believe that if you want to change something in our world we should speak out. We should do something," she says. "Not just speak in our kitchens and talking about everything, 'Oh, this is bad.' Only by being active we can change things and have a different life."