'Abducted' Femen activists spend night in police custody: Group
KIEV - Agence France-Presse
This combination made on July 27, 2013 of undated picture released by the FEMEN shows the three members of the feminist movement Femen (LtoR) Oleksandra Shevchenko, Oksana Shachko and Yana Zhdanova who have been abducted in the Ukrainian capital Kiev on July 27, 2013. AFP PhotoThree members of the feminist movement Femen and a photographer were illegally held in police custody overnight after being abducted by unknown assailants during Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Ukraine, the group said Sunday.
Femen, which is known for their bare-breasted protests, said three female activists and a photographer were beaten up, bundled into a car and taken to an unknown destination by plainclothes men ahead of their planned protest against Putin's trip on Saturday.
The attack on Oksana Shachko, Oleksandra Shevchenko, Yana Zhdanova and Dmitry Kostyukov followed an alleged assault earlier Saturday on the group's leader Anna Hutsol which she described as a warning by Ukranian special services not to stage any protests during Putin's two-day visit.
Speaking to AFP on Sunday, the group's lawyer Yaroslav Yatsenko said the three activists and the photographer were taken to a police station after being snatched off the street and had to spend the night in custody. He said Kostyukov and Shachko were beaten so badly that they were briefly hospitalised late Saturday. "Dmitry was kicked and received a head injury," he said, referring to Kostyukov, who is a former AFP photographer. Yatsenko said the four had been detained illegally.
Police in Kiev denied the activists were abducted, saying they were detained for violating public order.
The topless activists with signs on their bodies were posing for the photographer on a street when they were detained, a police spokesman said.
"They ignored the police officers' request to stop violating public order, so they were detained and taken to a police station," Kiev police spokesman Igor Mikhalko told AFP Saturday night.
Femen insists that they cancelled the planned protest after the activists the alleged attack.
The three women are now facing charges of petty hooliganism, while Kostyukov is accused of defying police orders. The four were taken to a court in Kiev on Sunday, an AFP correspondent witnessed.
After the activists went missing Saturday, Hutsol was attacked by an unknown man who she said hit her in the face at a cafe and made off with her notebook.
"I am outraged that they are now attacking people in public places," said Hutsol whose right eye was badly bruised.
On Saturday morning she was also hit in the face in her apartment building by a stranger who grabbed her dog and ran away.
Saturday's attacks come after a leading male activist with the group, Viktor Svyatskiy, was brutally beaten up last Wednesday. The group blamed the attack on the Ukrainian and Russian special services.