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FEMEN activists detained for action under Pope's balcony (PHOTO)

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Nov. 7, 2011, 11:25 a.m. | Ukraine — by Interfax-Ukraine

An activist of the Ukrainian female rights organization "Femen" shows a placard during a protest at the end of Pope Benedict XVI's Angelus prayer in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2011.
© AP

The activists of the Ukrainian FEMEN women's rights movement on Sunday held a rally against the "misogynist policies" of the church at St. Peter's Square in Vatican City. A statement posted on the Web site of the FEMEN movement reads that two participants were detained while approaching the square.

The leader of the movement, Oleksandra Shevchenko, got to St. Peter's Square in the center of the Vatican and staged a topless action under the balcony of Pope Benedict XVI.

According to Western media, a young Ukrainian women's rights activist sneaked past security and partially stripped in front the Vatican's Saint-Peter Basilica just after the Pope's Sunday Angelus.


An Italian policemen pulls a poster reading: "Freedom for women" held by an activist of the Ukrainian female rights organization "Femen" during a protest at the end of Pope Benedict XVI's Angelus prayer in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2011.


The blonde activist, initially wearing tight jeans and a see-through black tulle top, struck provocative poses against the dramatic backdrop of the basilica and the papal apartments, where Benedict XVI had given his traditional blessing moments earlier.

She brandished a black placard demanding "Freedom for Women" and then took her top off.

In this way, the activists expressed their "protest against papal patriarchal propaganda, imposing on the world the medieval idea of a woman, her social and cultural mission."


Italian Carabinieri, paramilitary policemen, detain an activist of the Ukrainian female rights organization "Femen" after she brandished a placard reading: "Freedom for women" and wearing diaphanous top, at the end of Pope Benedict XVI's Angelus prayer in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2011.


According to FEMEN's Web site, Vatican security forces dispersed reporters and detained the FEMEN movement activists, as well as a female journalist from Australia.

The FEMEN activists spent more than four hours in a police department in Rome and escaped deportation only under pressure from the media, the movement said.

Earlier on Saturday, FEMEN activists participated in a protest attended by several thousand people in Rome demanding the immediate resignation of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

They came to the protest topless, painted in the colors of the Italian flag.
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