Activist and Femen co-founder Oksana Shachko has been found dead in her Paris apartment in an apparent suicide, according to fellow members of the protest group. Shachko, 31, was among the Femen protesters who famously confronted Russian President Vladimir Putin during a topless protest in 2013, and according to a lawyer for the group has previously been abducted and badly beaten while attempting to protest Putin during a visit by the ex-KGB strongman to Ukraine. In a post on the Femen website honoring the activist’s life, she was described as “a heroine of our time who fought against injustice, fought for equality, fought like a hero for herself and for other women.”
“RIP. The most fearless and vulnerable Oksana Shachko has left us. “We mourn together with her relatives and friends and [await] the official version from the police,” wrote the Femen members in a post. “At the moment it is known that yesterday, July 23, Oksana’s body was found in her apartment in Paris. According to her friends, she left a suicide note,” the post said.
“Oksana is no longer with us, but she is here, she is everywhere. Oksana … is in each of us, she is in FEMEN, and she is in the history of feminism,” they added.
Speaking with RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service, fellow Femen co-founder Anna Hutsol said that she had not been in close touch with her recently, but that “as far as I know, she was concerned that everything is going badly in the world.”
Shachko, who among her many accomplishments helped organize and participated in protests of prominent figures such as Czech President Milos Zeman and disgraced American comedian Bill Cosby, had also previously alleged being kidnapped alongside two other Femen members in 2011 following a topless protest of Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka. According to Femen, the women were forced to strip naked and had oil poured over them by security officers who threatened to set them aflame before cutting off their hair. Undeterred, the Ukrainian feminist activist group has continued to grow and now includes sister chapters across the world.
Read the full story at Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty.