KYIV, June 18 (RIA Novosti) – Self-styled “sextremist” topless protesters from Ukrainian feminist group Femen were dispersed by police in Kyiv overnight after attempting to storm a building where the Belarusian president was staying, the group said on its website on Tuesday.
President Alexander Lukashenko, once dubbed by US officials as the “last dictator in Europe,” is in the Ukrainian capital for a two-day official visit.
The activists, carrying burning torches and with slogans including "Viva Belarus", "Dictator, Get Out!" daubed on their bodies, tried to break through security at the residence in downtown Kyiv where Lukashenko was staying.
They were rounded up by Ukrainian riot police, who prevented them from entering the building.
The group said it staged the protest to remind Lukashenko of what it called “the brutal harassment” of Femen activists in the forest near the Belarusian town of Gomel in 2011, following another topless demonstration near KGB headquarters in the Belarusian capital Minsk.
Femen said their protest also aimed to highlight the plight of independent journalists in Belarus who they claim have “disappeared” after criticizing the Lukashenko regime, and of the hundreds of political prisoners who are "illegally" held in Belarusian prison camps. The group also cited the case of the men who were jailed and executed "without any proof" for their alleged role in a deadly bomb attack on the Minsk subway in 2011.
“Femen calls the world to the psychological war with dictators! Watch them night and day, don't let them act!” the group said in a statement on its website.
Femen has carried out a series of high-profile protests abroad in recent weeks.
On Monday, Femen activists issued a statement on their website saying they “can no longer watch passively” while Turkey's Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan uses force against demonstrators on Istanbul’s Taksim Square, which has been at the center of mass riots in the country for over a fortnight. The group appealed for money to pay for travel to Turkey, where they threatened to “fight chest to chest” against what it called the "dictatorship" of Erdogan.
In May, Femen activists from France and Germany were arrested after they made a topless protest in front of Tunisia’s Palace of Justice, after the arrest of a local Femen activist following an earlier protest.
Femen was set up in Ukraine in 2008, initially to protest on women’s rights issues. The group has since made headlines with topless protests around the world on a variety of other political issues.