A policeman detains an activist from Ukrainian group Femen at a polling station in Moscow (Reuters / Denis Sinyakov)
After the Ukrainian activist group Femen disrupted voting at the Moscow polling station where Vladimir Putin cast his ballot on Sunday, Russia’s Federal Migration Service is considering declaring them personae non grata.
Three Ukrainian women posing as reporters entered the polling station, approached the ballot boxes, and then abruptly stripped to the waist.
The topless activists, their chests emblazoned with anti-Putin messages, chanted obscene slogans and lunged at the ballot box just 20 minutes after the premier left the building.
The Femen members then made an apparent attempt to steal the electronic box in which the presidential frontrunner had just cast his ballot, disconnecting it. The local election committee later took the decision to replace the device.
The activists had the slogan “I steal for Putin” scrawled on their torsos – an apparent satire on the slogan “Tear to shreds for Putin”, used by pro-government movements which have sought to exploit the sexuality of their female activists to whip up support for the Russian leader.
A Moscow court sentenced the women to administrative detention with the offenders getting terms of 5, 10 and 12 days behind bars.
If the Federal Migration Service decides that the presence of FEMEN activists in Russia is undesirable, the Ukrainians will be expelled and might be barred from entering the country in the future.
Police detained the activists shortly after they dropped their coats.
Femen is known for their flashy, politically-loaded displays. They started off protesting against sex tourism in Ukraine, but quickly broadened their range of issues to embrace a host of hot topics, from Ukraine’s gas deals with Russia to Belarus’ bid to host the ice hockey world championship.