Assault on Femen supporter and kidnappings hint at Vladimir Putin’s sensitivity …

Femen, which originated in Ukraine, sends attractive young women out to remove their tops at protests, exposing slogans written across their breasts and backs.

But this approach has riled right wingers in Kyiv, who recently assaulted Femen supporter and political scientist Viktor Svyatsky.

According to a report in the Mail Online, he was attacked close to Femen's headquarters and may have suffered a broken jaw.

His assailants allegedly declared that "the girls will be next" if there were any Femen protests when Russian president Vladimir Putin visited the city.

The following day, Femen posted a notice on its website about how an "organized criminal group of people attacked three activists of FEMEN and one journalist". 

Oksana Shachko, Alexander Shevchenko, Yana Zhdanova and Dmitry Kostukov were also reportedly kidnapped, according to Femen. It adds that Kostukov is a former AFP photographer who has also worked for the New York Times.

"FEMEN says that Putin and the hypocrites surrounding him were responsible for the attack on activists FEMEN!," the website declares.

It adds that this is retaliation for Femen's regular criticism of the Russian government's policies. This  included a protest against Putin in Hanover, Germany (see photo above).

The notice ends with this statement: "WOMEN SPRING IS COMING!"

Femen invariably generates a torrent of media attention, whether it concerns the Catholic Church's opposition to same-sex marriage, the Davos economic summit, or the Tunisian government's decision to imprison a Femen member.

This has occasionally led to a backlash. (For more on the backlash to feminist initiatives in the past, see U.S. writer Susan Faludi's book on this topic.)

But the brutal beating of Svyatsky and the alleged kidnapping of three women and a photographer mark a serious escalation.

Many of Femen's actions have been against those who oppose equal rights for the LGBT community.

The recent vicious responses come as the Russian leader is under international fire for his country's outrageous repression of gays and lesbians.

Putin recently signed a law making it illegal for same-sex parents to adopt Russian kids.

He also supports police arresting tourists who are suspected of being gay or lesbian. This has prompted fears that anyone attending the 2014 Olympics in Sochi could be jailed on mere suspicion of being homosexual.

Meanwhile, Straight columnist Dan Savage has called for a boycott of Russian vodka. And as the Straight's lead writer on LGBT issues, Craig Takeuchi, reported on Friday, several Vancouver bars that serve LGBT customers have joined this campaign.

Even Vancouver's mayor, Gregor Robertson, has jumped into the fray.

He recently issued a statement calling on Russia to "end its violent crackdown on the human rights and free expression of the LGBTQ community ahead of hosting the world in Sochi".

With Robertson as mayor, Vancouver hosted the last Winter Olympics in 2010.

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The mission of the "FEMEN" movement is to create the most favourable conditions for the young women to join up into a social group with the general idea of the mutual support and social responsibility, helping to reveal the talents of each member of the movement.

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