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'Topless' Ukrainians may face jail for insulting Indian flag

PTI   |  Feb 18, 2012, 19:21PM IST

Moscow: The Ukrainian women activists, who tore up the Indian flag in a topless act in Kiev last month to protest India's reported tightening of visa rules for young women from Ukraine, may land in jail for up to four years.

Carrying placards that read "Ukraine is not brothel" and "I am not prostitute", the women had climbed up to the balcony of the Indian ambassador's residence in the Ukrainian capital, after stripping up to the waist braving sub-zero temperatures to lodge a novel protest.

They were enraged over the Indian Foreign Ministry's reported instructions to carry out detailed checks of all Ukrainian women aged 15 to 40 seeking Indian travel visa.

An Indian media report had said that the move by New Delhi was aimed at checking the growing prostitute rackets involving women from Central Asian nations.

Russian news agency 'RIA Novosti' said, "In a first, Ukrainian topless protesters 'Femen' face a criminal case in their home country, though not over their practice of stripping in public for a good cause."

The protesters tore down the Indian flag, beat it about doors and windows and threw it on the ground. Despite temperatures of minus 4 degrees Celsius, all of them were topless.

The incident resulted in two cases opened on separate charges of hooliganism and desecration of state symbols, Ukrainian police said. No one was charged as of last evening.

Femen, media darlings due to their methods of protests, have been active since 2008, staging political protests in Ukraine and outside the country. The group declared freedom of speech and protection of women's rights as its goals.

Group members never faced criminal cases before, getting away with fines or brief arrests.

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