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France grants political asylum to Femen leader

Ukrainian activist Inna Shevchenko, leader of the Femen, at their 'training camp' at the Lavoir Moderne Parisien in Paris
Ukrainian activist Inna Shevchenko, leader of the Femen, at their 'training camp' at the Lavoir Moderne Parisien in Paris Reuters/Charles Platiau

France has granted political asylum to the leader of the Femen topless protest movement. Ukrainian Inna Shevchenko faces prosecution in her home country for cutting down an Orthodox Christian cross with a chainsaw in solidarity with the jailed members of Russian group Pussy Riot.

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Shevchenko herself made the decision public, showing official documents that say the move was effective from 9 April to the AFP news agency.

The French authorities have refused to confirm the information, saying that it is confidential.

Her application for asylum was “strategic”, she said, motivated by the need to have a base from shich to develop Femen, whose members and sympathisers have organised topless protests against sexism, homophobia, prostitution and religion in several European countries since 2010.

Two French women and one German recently served jail time in Tunisia after a protest in support of Amina Sboui, a Tunisian Femen supporter currently in prison awaiting trial.

In September 2012 the group opened a training school for “new feminism” in Paris.

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