A topless feminist activist from the Kyiv-based activist group FEMEN confronted Patriarch Kirill as he stepped off a plane to visit Ukraine on Thursday. The woman ran up to the bearded Russian Orthodox official without a top on and the words “Kill Kirill” painted on her back. She ran up to him screaming “Get out” before guards quickly peeled her away from the conservative masthead.
The Moscow Times reports that she has been sentenced to 15 days behind bars for her protest. The woman behind the stunt, Yana Zhdanova, was the woman chosen by the women’s rights group FEMEN to run up to the Russian Orthodox Church’s leader. The Patriarch has been known to take extremely conservative stances on a number of pertinent issues in Russia and Ukraine in recent months, which FEMEN does not support.
He supported the stringent anti-LGBT propaganda law passed earlier this year in Russia which bars activists from displaying banners or information regarding LGBT identity or rights. He also supported the continued jailing and prosecution of feminist activist punk band Pussy Riot, who are facing charges of hooliganism after staging a performance in a Moscow cathedral.
The Orthodox Church has remained critical of FEMEN’s newest protest, stating to the Moscow Times:
It is disgraceful that people are trying to cast a cloud over Patriarch Kirill’s visit to Ukraine with pranks like this.
FEMEN is known for their flamboyant topless protests, many of which have been staged in Kyiv. In May, another topless FEMEN activist stole the Euro Cup trophy in order to take a stand against sex trafficking in Ukraine. RT News reports that FEMEN also recently staged a topless protest in the Vatican’s St. Peters Square.
Patriarch Kirill and Russian President Vladimir Putin have had close ties during Putin’s entire tenure in political office. Many of the policies touted by the president’s United Russia party have been supported by the Orthodox Church, angering protesters in both Ukraine and Russia.