Femen Political Asylum: Leader Inna Shevchenko Says France Granted Her Sanctuary

Jul 08, 2013

It seems Femen is moving to France.

Though the Ukrainian feminist movement -- known for its topless demonstrations -- already has a headquarters in the country, the group announced Monday that France also granted Femen leader Inna Shevchenko political asylum.

Femen revealed that France approved Shevchenko's application in a post on its website.

Shevchenko described her request for asylum as a "strategic choice" since Femen moved its headquarters to France and also opened its first training camp for activists in Paris, Russian news agency RIA Novosti reports.

Shevchenko sought sanctuary outside her home country -- where she may face prosecution -- after she used a chainsaw to cut down a memorial cross in Kiev during a demonstration in support of Pussy Riot last year. Following the incident, Shevchenko fled Ukraine for fear of being arrested.

The French department that grants protection to refugees refused to confirm Shevchenko's asylum to the Agence France-Presse, labeling the matter "confidential."

Founded in 2008, Femen has built up a reputation of staging radical protests, often showing skin to draw attention. Yet, the use of nudity is not without legal repercussions.

Three Femen activists spent a month in a Tunisian jail after they staged a topless protest outside a courthouse in May. Though the three apologized during their appeals hearing in order to avoid further jail time, the day of their release, French activist Pauline Hillier told reporters: "We regret nothing. FEMEN never regrets its actions."

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