• France's news in English

France 'grants' political asylum to Femen leader

AFP/The Local · 8 Jul 2013, 15:37

Published: 08 Jul 2013 15:37 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The head of the French branch of radical topless feminist group Femen, Ukrainian Inna Shevchenko, said Monday that Paris had granted her request for political asylum.

Shevchenko told AFP she had received notification from France's OFPRA refugee agency that her request had been granted, 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.

The agency refused to comment, saying information on asylum requests was confidential. But OFPRA documents seen by AFP said the decision to grant Shevchenko asylum had been taken on April 9.

Shevchenko said she fears persecution in Ukraine after she sawed down a large wooden cross that stood in the centre of Kiev.

The stunt was intended to support Russian band Pussy Riot, whose members were jailed last year for their "punk prayer" protest against President Vladimir Putin's close relations with the Russian Orthodox Church.

Shevchenko made the request for asylum after arriving in France last August on a tourist visa. She subsequently set up a "training centre" for Femen activists in Paris and the group has carried out a number of protests in the city.

Founded in Ukraine in 2008, Femen is a self-declared "radical feminist" group known for its topless protests against sexual exploitation of women, sexism and religious institutions.

Its protests have sparked widespread controversy in France and beyond, most notably hen members of the group stripped off at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris to bid adieu to Pope Benedict.

Story continues below…

They have also caused uproar in Tunisia where three European women were jailed for baring their breasts in public during a protest in support of a detained Tunisian Femen activist.

The three were released from prison and returned to Paris late last month after apologising for their actions.

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.

AFP/The Local (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
A Prophet. Photo: YouTube Screengrab

Looking for something to watch?

The must-see French films of the millennium - Part Two
Rust and Bone. Photo: YouTube Screengrab

The newest French films you need to see before you die (or alternatively when you get some spare time).

Election Watch
Presidential hopeful reckons a pain au chocolat is 10 cents

So France happily takes the pastry out of him.

French ministry of defence officials die in plane crash
Screengrab: eddydeg/Twitter

The French Ministry of Defence officials were killed on Monday when a light aircraft went down on the island of Malta.

Revealed: The ten most stolen cars in France
A Smart car in Paris. Photo: JR_Paris/Flickr

Thieves in France are getting a taste for luxury cars, it seems.

Analysis - France migrant crisis
Migrant crisis won't end with Calais 'Jungle' closure
All Photos: AFP

The Jungle camp may be being cleared but this won't be the end of the migrant crisis in France.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie 'to sell their French chateau'
All photos: AFP

Want to live where Brangelina got married?

How Paris is rapidly becoming Europe's 'City of Innovation'
Photo: AFP

If you want to start a company then Paris is the place to do it, it seems.

'Jungle' clearance: Migrants begin to leave Calais camp
All photos: AFP

The "Jungle" clearance is underway.

France's 'Jungle' children arrive in UK
Authorities will start to clear the ‘Jungle’ migrant camp on Monday. Photo: Denis Charlet / AFP file picture

The first group of children from the French "Jungle" migrant camp with no connection to Britain have arrived in the country, the Home Office said Sunday, ahead of the camp's planned demolition.

The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
jobs available