Topless ‘Sextremist’ Relishes Presidential Challenges
The topless storming of photo ops for heavily guarded heads of state takes determination, courage, and some cunning.
But it can also take a toll in other ways.
Anzhelina Diash, who is becoming an expert on such guerrilla tactics on presidents for the protest group Femen, says that in addition to jail time she recently lost her job as a kindergarten teacher in Kyiv because of her activism.
Her firing came after she charged toward befuddled Czech President Milos Zeman with “Zeman Putin’s Slut” painted on her bare bosom, screaming the same slogan, as he was voting in Prague in the first round of his successful reelection bid.
“I was fired because of Femen,” Diash told RFE/RL on February 7. “I know there were some parents [of students] who were very embarrassed and unhappy because of my Femen work.”
The twentysomething native of the western Ukrainian city of Khmelnytskyy added that she was also dismissed from an online publication for which she had been writing about fashion and reviewing restaurants.
“I just think that some people are too conservative, and it is difficult for them to have someone [working for them] who…does something special…something [irregular].”
But she vowed to continue with her Femen activities, despite the professional setbacks.
“I know that I was a good teacher…I’m not frustrated, I’m looking forward. I know I will find something new for me,” she says.
Diash has been in Femen — the group calls its seminaked ranks “sextremists” — for about eight years.
“Because of my skin [color], I’m used to fighting for my rights,” says Diash, whose father was a medical student from Angola when he married her mother, a Ukrainian.
“It is very rare that you can [see] in the streets [of Kyiv] some black girl,” she says. “It’s in my blood to fight for some [correct] things, and that is why Femen is my cup of tea.”
Diash has chalked up a number of operations targeting Eastern European strongmen.
Before her Zeman protest asserting an overly cozy relationship between the Czech leader and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Diash staged a demonstration in July against authoritarian Belarusian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka while he was meeting in Kyiv with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.
“We are [advocating] for democracy and we don’t think that our president should meet such people like Lukashenka and to make some deals with this person,” she says. “This action was against [Ukraine having] any relations with a dictator. Dictators…are not our friends at all if you want to live in a free and democratic country.”
The Lukashenka protest led to charges of hooliganism and resisting police, and Diash faces a prison sentence of up to five years if found guilty.
Copyright (c) 2017. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.