Support The Moscow Times!

Bare-Breasted Ukrainian Protester Held in Vatican

A topless protester from the Ukrainian women's rights group Femen was arrested at the Vatican after revealing her breasts and railing against the "sexist policies" of the Catholic Church.

Video on the group's web site showed the blond-haired woman — identified as Alexandra Shevchenko — drop to her knees in St. Peter's Square at the end of Sunday's Mass, hold up a sign reading "Freedom for Women" and remove her black see-thru top as police converged on her.

The officers quickly wrestled the screaming Shevchenko to the ground and took her into custody.

Femen said on its site that Shevchenko was supposed to be joined by two others but they had been detained earlier by Vatican police who had been tipped off about the impending protest.

All three were held for four hours before being released. The group said the purpose of its protest was to crusade against the Vatican's "sexist policies."

"The papal patriarchal propaganda continues to promulgate a medieval idea of a woman's social and cultural place," the group said on its site. "We stand for the rights of free women."

The group has become notorious for staging similar topless protests around the world.

A day earlier, topless members of the group painted in the colors of the Italian flag joined several thousand people demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who is embroiled in a sex scandal while his government flounders in the debt crisis sweeping Europe.

Read more

Independent journalism isn’t dead. You can help keep it alive.

As the only remaining independent, English-language news source reporting from Russia, The Moscow Times plays a critical role in connecting Russia to the world.

Editorial decisions are made entirely by journalists in our newsroom, who adhere to the highest ethical standards. We fearlessly cover issues that are often considered off-limits or taboo in Russia, from domestic violence and LGBT issues to the climate crisis and a secretive nuclear blast that exposed unknowing doctors to radiation.

Please consider making a one-time donation — or better still a recurring donation — to The Moscow Times to help us continue producing vital, high-quality journalism about the world's largest country.