KYIV (AFP) - Three founders of Femen said Saturday they had left Ukraine in fear for their lives after police discovered weapons in their Kyiv offices that the feminist group says were planted.
Alexandra Shevchenko, Anna Hutsol and Yana Zhdanova "have fled Ukraine fearing for their lives and for their liberty" and would "continue their activities in Europe", said a statement on the group's website.
The three women decided to leave after Ukrainian police called them in for questioning on Friday, the statement said.
The group, known for its topless political protests, is facing a criminal investigation after police said they confiscated a TT handgun and a grenade from its offices in central Kyiv on Tuesday.
Activists from Ukrainian women's rights group Femen at their office in Kyiv August 27, 2013. Photo: Reuters
Hutsol insisted the group did not have any weapons and suggested they could have been planted in the office while the activists were away.
The Ukrainian authorities have had Femen in their sights for some time. On Wednesday the group said it was moving out of its Kyiv offices "for security reasons", alleging official wiretapping.
An activist of Ukrainian women's rights group Femen Anna Hutsol points at the place, where according to Hutsol, police found explosives and a gun during a search, at their office in Kyiv August 27, 2013. Photo: Reuters
Femen, which was founded in Ukraine but now has its headquarters in Paris, has become well-known in Ukraine and abroad, where members bare their breasts to protest discrimination against women and other rights violations.
The group has said 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.