Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were confronted by Femen activists in Hanover, Germany.
Femen activists, who strip off to highlight a range of issues, including women’s rights, press freedom and domestic violence were dragged kicking and screaming from the premises by security guards.
As one women tried to push through to Vladimir Putin she was blocked by his aides – her back was painted with words directed against the Russian president.
The members of the women’s rights group Femen, which has staged protests against Russia’s detention of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot around Europe, appeared as Vladimir Putin visited a trade fair in Hanover with Angela Merkel.
Vladimir Putin and Angela Merkel were confronted by topless Femen activists in Hanover
They stripped off to the waist and shouted slogans calling Vladimir Putin a “dictator” before being covered up and bundled away by security men.
However, a smiling Vladimir Putin shrugged off the protest and said: “As for the action, I liked it.”
“You should be grateful to the girls, they are helping you make the fair more popular.”
But Angela Merkel was not amused, saying: “Whether one has to resort to such an emergency measure in Germany and can’t say one’s piece some other way, I have my doubts.”
It seems that the Kremlin were not so impressed by the demonstration as Vladimir Putin.
“This is ordinary hooliganism and unfortunately it happens all over the world, in any city. One needs to punish [them],” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
Vladimir Putin’s arrival at the trade fair on Sunday also drew protesters, some of whom were dressed in striped prison uniforms.
“Stop political terror,” read one banner.
Angela Merkel told Vladimir Putin in a speech at the fair on Sunday that Russia needed “an active civil society” including freedom for non-governmental organizations, after a wave of controversial state inspections of foreign-funded NGOs in Russia.
The German chancellor had promised to raise what she called “controversial subjects” with the Russian leader, after coming under pressure to voice Berlin’s unease over the crackdown on NGOs, Moscow’s support of the Syrian government and its criticism of the German-orchestrated financial bailout of Cyprus.
Femen was founded in Kiev in 2008 to protest against Ukraine’s booming sex industry. At their first demonstration members appeared clothed carrying banners reading “Ukraine is not a brothel!”.
Femen has since gone from strength to strength with 150,000 members worldwide and branches across Europe and even in highly conservative countries such as Egypt.
Three activists of the Ukrainian women’s rights movement Femen staged a protest at the Vatican on Sunday, shortly after the Pope’s regular Sunday address.
One of them sneaked into St. Peter’s square and took off her coat revealing a transparent blouse.
The demonstrator held a sign saying “Freedom for Women” and shouted: “Libere siamo noi” [Italian for “We are free”].
Three activists of the Ukrainian women’s rights movement Femen staged a protest at the Vatican on Sunday, shortly after the Pope’s regular Sunday address
The woman was stopped as she started pulling her clothes off by police and quickly led along with her two partners to a nearby police station where the protesters are being questioned.
Femen is Ukrainian protest group based in Kiev and was founded in 2008. The organization became internationally known for organizing topless protests against sex tourism, international marriage agencies, sexism and other social, national and international issues.
Ukrainian parliament’s new session got off to a dramatic start with MPs brawling on the floor of the chamber while a Femen protest against corruption was staged outside.
Members of feminist group Femen, whose motto is “We came, we undressed, we conquered”, stripped naked down to just black pants and knee-high black socks in temperatures of minus 3C.
Their stunt was an attempt to draw attention to the plight of opposition leader and ex-premier Yulia Tymoshenko who was jailed for crimes not recognized in the West as punishable by prison.
Before being hauled away by police, the Femen protesters claimed parliament, which met for the first time since the “flawed” October elections in the country, was a “stable” for the “horses of oligarchs”.
Inside parliament, the opposition nationalist Svoboda group chased and manhandled two MPs, a father and son, in a bid to prevent them taking the oath.
They were physically ejected from the chamber by opposition deputies who accused them of defecting to the ruling coalition.
Ukrainian parliament’s new session got off to a dramatic start with MPs brawling on the floor of the chamber
The procedural wrangling at the opening of the new parliament threatened to push back a key vote on whether Mykola Azarov will be endorsed for a new term as prime minister.
The vote will be the first test of the support for President Viktor Yanukovich, who re-nominated Mykola Azarov.
But when the speaker formally announced that Mykola Azarov and his government were present, the chamber echoed to opposition cries of “Hanba! Hanba!” (Shame!)
MPs from Yulia Tymoshenko’s party wore black jerseys with her portrait on the front and the phrase “Freedom to Political Prisoners” on the back.
Yulia Tymoshenko remains in prison after being sentenced to seven years in prison in 2011 for alleged abuse of office over a gas deal with Russia.
Viktor Yanukovich’s pro-business Party of the Regions and their allies enjoyed a strong majority in the last parliament, which allowed them to push through changes to the electoral law and a law on use of the Russian language that sparked street protests.
Despite losing seats in the October elections, the results were seen as a consolidation of President Viktor Yanukovych’s power as his party still remained the biggest in parliament.
Most analysts said they believed horse-trading would ensure enough support from independents and others to secure the required 226 or more seats. But the new opposition line-up, whose leaders have ruled out any coalition with the Regions, quickly showed their teeth.
Deputies from the three main opposition parties surrounded the speaker’s rostrum, effectively blocking activation of the electronic system which would allow deputies to vote on Mykola Azarov’s nomination and the appointment of parliamentary officials.
After a prolonged stand-off, both sides went home agreeing to resume business on Thursday, according to the Regions Party.
Separately, the government put off a meeting scheduled for Thursday morning.