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France grants asylum to Ukrainian Femen activist

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-07-08

The head of the French branch of the radical feminist group Femen, Ukrainian Inna Shevchenko, was granted political asylum in France on Monday. The 23-year-old fled Ukraine in August 2012 after she cut down a 13ft wooden cross with a chainsaw.

The head of the French branch of radical topless feminist group Femen, Ukrainian Inna Shevchenko, was granted political asylum in France on Monday.

Shevchenko, who applied for asylum after fleeing her native Ukraine in August last year, told the AFP news agency that the French refugee organsiation OFPRA had approved her request, based on fears that she would face persecution in Ukraine for her political activities.

The 23-year-old said she had made a "strategic choice" to seek asylum in France. "To develop the movement, we need a place, we need a country," she said.

Shevchenko sparked outrage in her homeland after she sawed down a large wooden cross that stood in the centre of Kiev in protest at the prosecution of the Russian band Pussy Riot and President Vladimir Putin’s close relations with the Russian Orthodox Church.

Fearing arrest, she fled to Paris, via Warsaw, using a tourist visa, and has remained in France since.

News of Shevchenko’s successful asylum request was also announced on Femen’s website.

“Ideologist and inspirer of the crosscutting pursued by the authorities of Ukraine and Russia sextremist Femen Inna Shevchenko received documents to be granted political asylum of the French Republic,” it stated.

When contacted by AFP, OFPRA said it was unable to comment on the matter, which it described as “confidential”.

However, according to OFPRA documents sent to the news agency by Femenand also published on its website, the decision to grant asylum to Shevchenko was taken on April 9.

The documents state that Shevchenko was recognised as having “refugee status” and that she is now “under the legal protection” of the agency.

Since Shevchenko’s arrival in Paris, the French capital has become Femen’s principal base, with the group setting up its first “training centre” in the country in September 2012.

Founded in Ukraine in 2008, the self-declared “radical feminist” group has staged numerous controversial protests against sexism and religious institutions across the world. 

In Tunisia three European women were jailed for baring their breasts in public during a protest in support of a detained Tunisian Femen activist.

The women, one German and two French, were released from prison last month.

On Friday police in Turkey arrested a Femen activist who had staged a topless protest at an Istanbul airport to denounce Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's religious conservatism.

Date created : 2013-07-08

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