Ukrainian Authorities Raid FEMEN Office, Seizing Gun and Grenade
A gun, grenade, and bullets were seized from the Kiev office of Ukraine-based radical feminist group Femen, Ukrainian authorities announced Tuesday. The weapons were allegedly found alongside images of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Kirill, the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church.
In a post on the group’s website, Femen announced that the police are preparing for a “provocation” against them.
Leader Anna Hutsol told Ukrainian Pravda that the weapons and images — which had crosshairs focused on the faces of the two men —were planted to damage Femen’s reputation. Authorities searched the office after receiving an anonymous tip.
“We are not a terrorist organization,” Hutsol said. “We see this as pressure and repression.” She added that the group hadn’t been at the office in several days.
The group has famously been critical of Putin and religious authorities. A topless Femen member tried to attack the patriarch with the words "Kill Kirill" scrawled on her back during his visit to Kiev in July. Earlier this month, another topless activist confronted Putin during a visit to Germany.
This raid on Femen's office comes after a string of crackdowns by neighboring Russia’s government on opposition groups, including ones advocating for feminist and LGBT issues.
August 17 marked the one-year anniversary of the imprisonment of two members of the Russian feminist punk-rock band Pussy Riot on charges of "hooliganism" after they filmed a music video in one of Moscow’s most iconic cathedrals. The lyrics to their song included phrases like, “Mother of God, chase Putin away!”
A case is currently pending in a Moscow district court against defendants in the so-called “Bolotnaya Case,” who were arrested during anti-Putin protests in May 2012. Two others have already been sentences to prison terms of four and a half and 2 and a half years.
Meanwhile, a law passed by the Russian duma last November requires that organizations receiving foreign funding, including many NGOs advocating for LGBT rights, register as “foreign agents” or risk heavy fines. Some of those affected have been forced to cease their advocacy work.
Femen was also in the news last week when Tunisian activist Amina Sboui formally declared that she was breaking with the organization over its attitude towards Islam. Femen famously staged a "Topless Jihad" when Sboui was detained in Tunisia after posting topless photos of herself on the Femen Tunisia Facebook group. The group's action prompted a response from Muslim women around the world who took issue with Femen's equating of modesty to oppression.
You can watch a video of the raid here: