Ukranian Feminists, Femen, Accused of Arms Cache.
Raid on Femen (link to Official site).
FEMEN have accused Ukrainian police of planting weapons in their Kiev bureau.
The feminist group, known for their bare-breasted protests, have denied being in possession of items included a World War II pistol and a grenade, during a police raid.
Crude mock-ups showing Russian President Vladimir Putin in a snipers’ crosshairs were also found. The police said they were responding to an anonymous tip-off.
“Half an hour ago policemen came and told us that there had been a complaint about weapons and explosives being stored in our office. We of course did not take it seriously, but the fact that seconds later the whole special group appeared shows that everything has been planned in advance,” said FEMEN co-founder Anna Gutsol.
There are no reports of arrest, but the offices have been sealed off and many activists were rounded up for questioning.
This morning Libération reports,
After the discovery of weapons in their headquarters in Kiev, feminist activists have decided to close their local offices, saying it is no longer possible to work because of constant surveillance by the police.
Even before this incident, ” It was no longer possible to work in the office, where we were all the time listened to and monitored by the ‘special forces’. ” declared their local leader, Anna Hutsol.
The newspaper adds,
The Femen movement, founded in the Ukraine, but whose HQ is now in Paris, had for some years carried out actions across the world, denouncing sexism and discrimination against women. Their supporters appear suddenly, their breasts bared, and their bodies covered with writing, in order to attract attention. The group also denounces homophobia, the collusion between the state and the Church, authoritarian regimes, and election fraud.
Agence France Press just reported,
Kiev police spokesman Igor Mikhalko told AFP on Wednesday that the police had launched a criminal probe into illegal possession of weapons by the group, which could lead to a jail sentence of five years.
No one in the group has been charged but the investigation continues and the women could be called in for further questioning, Mikhalko said.
Hutsol told AFP that the group had already decided to move out and that the police raid had “strangely coincided” with its last day in its offices.
Police questioned activists until late Tuesday before releasing them, Hutsol said.
Femen’s female activists have become well-known in Ukraine and abroad for baring their breasts to protest at discrimination against women and other rights violations.
The group has claimed that Hutsol and other activists were beaten by special services last month in an attempt by the government to pressure them to halt their protests, which target figures including Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The group will continue its activism in Ukraine, Hutsol vowed.
“We are not stopping our activities in Ukraine, we are just moving out of the office.”
“Now to plan and prepare our next protests we will gather in different places.”