Topless Ukraine activists open anti-Euro soccer campaign
KIEV, May 12 – A Ukrainian women’s rights activist stripped to the waist and seized the Euro-2012 soccer trophy while it was on public display in Kiev today in a protest against the exploitation of women during the forthcoming championship.
The young woman, 23-year-old Yulia Kovpachik, strode up to the silver trophy, which was on display as a tourist attraction in central Kiev, ostensibly to be photographed alongside it like hundreds of other sightseers.
But she then pulled down her red T-shirt to reveal the words “Fuck Euro 2012” scrawled on her chest. As she grabbed hold of the cup with both hands, she was seized by security guards, who appeared to have had advanced warning of the protest.
They covered her with a sheet and took her off to a waiting police car.
The protest appeared to be the first action in a campaign against the championship by Femen, a Kiev-based women’s rights groups which regularly stages bare-breast protests in Ukraine – and sometimes beyond – to highlight what it sees as political injustice, social abuse and the exploitation of women in Ukraine.
Femen says Euro-2012, which Ukraine is co-hosting with Poland next month with the final in Kiev on July 1, will be a magnet for sex tourists – one of the group’s main targets.
Organisers expect Euro-2012 to attract about one million foreign tourists.
Conscious of Ukraine’s growing reputation as a new destination for sex tourism, Euro-2012 organisers say they are taking steps to curb prostitution during the month-long tournament.
After Kovpachik’s protest, Femen activist Olexandra Shevchenko told reporters: “We came here today to stop this Euro fan low-life from making a bordello out of Ukraine.”
City authorities have mounted the Henri Delaunay trophy – which weighs 7.6kg and is 60 centimetres high – in a temporary display area on Kiev’s Independence Square.
Hundreds of sightseers were queuing up under the blazing sun for souvenir photographs alongside it when Kovpachik staged her demonstration.
Independence Square itself will be the centre of a huge ‘fan-zone’ during Euro-2012, capable of holding tens of thousands of football supporters. – Reuters