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20 Dec, 2011 10:42

FEMEN 'tortured, left naked in forest' after KGB topless protest

Three Ukrainian FEMEN activists have allegedly been kidnapped by Belarusian KGB officers who threatened the protesters with knives, cut their hair and then left the women alone in the woods, says the movement’s webpage.

The activists disappeared on Monday in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, after protesting in front of the KGB building against the country’s long-ruling president, Aleksandr Lukashenko.

“From 6 pm Kiev time, the connection with the FEMEN activists has been lost, and one hour later all their mobile phones appeared to be switched off,” a statement on the movement’s webpage said.

Later one of the missing women, Irina Shevchenko, managed to get access to a phone. The activist told her colleagues she had been detained by the police and KGB officers at Minsk railway station, together with two other FEMEN protesters.

“We were blindfolded and put into a bus,” Shevchenko said. “Then they took us to the woods, poured oil over us, forced us to undress – threatening to set fire to us or stab us with knives. They later used those knives to cut our hair.”

Then the activists were left alone in the woods, with no clothes or documents. The girls made a long journey on foot before finding help in a small village which turned out to be deep in the Belarusian outback.

In their blog, the movement’s leaders called on locals to help the activists hide from the police until Ukrainian embassy staff managed to rescue them.

Earlier the movement announced that its camerawoman, Kitty Green, who has Australian citizenship, was detained together with two local journalists. The women were released from detention several hours later; Green was deported to Vilnius, Lithuania.

An official of Belarus State Border Committee, Aleksandr Tushchenko, told Interfax that the committee had no information on the arrest of the FEMEN activists.

The Belarusian Foreign Ministry also denied detaining the FEMEN protesters, nor have they confirmed that they are aware of the activists’ whereabouts.

During their anti-Lukashenko protest, the topless activists chanted, "Long live Belarus!” One of them was made up as President Lukashenko.

December 19 is the anniversary of an unauthorized opposition rally that took place in Minsk in 2010 following presidential elections which was brutally dispersed by police, with many protesters beaten up and arrested.

The FEMEN movement is notorious for politically-motivated naked protests held at home in Ukraine and in countries throughout Europe, including Vatican City. One of their latest actions was held in the Russian capital, Moscow, in front of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior.