A DAY after Russian president Vladimir Putin laughed off a topless protest by feminist human rights campaigners, claiming he "liked" what he saw, the group have hit back, describing him as "really stupid".
Putin was targeted during a trip to a trade fair in Germany. Several members of the Ukranian protest group Femen, with anti-Putin messages daubed on their bodies, broke through security and rushed him before being tackled by security.
Putin appeared surprised but afterwards claimed he "liked" the protest and told reporters: "I did not catch what they were shouting, I did not even see if they were blondes, brunettes or chestnut-haired... it is better to be dressed if one wants to discuss political matters."
His flippant response has not gone down well with the activists. Talking to the Daily Telegraph, one of the group, Alexandra Shevchenko, said: "Putin is a bastard. If you're a normal person you have to be against him."
She explained that Femen had been protesting against the Russian leader's record on "human rights, the rights of women, [and] this situation with Pussy Riot".
It is the latest protest from Femen to hit the headlines, and comes after the group caused controversy last week by holding an International Topless Jihad Day and burning the Salafist flag outside the Great Mosque in Paris.
Shevchenko told the Telegraph that topless protesting was catching on and said she hoped Femen could establish a presence in the UK.
"This way of protest is being used by women all over the world," she said. "When a woman's nudity is not controlled by men... when she's using her sexuality for her own aims, political aims – that really makes patriarchy irritated."
Not everyone agrees with Femen's tactics and their protests against the treatment of women under Islam may have backfired. Bim Adewunmi, writing for the New Statesman, took umbrage at the group's efforts, suggesting their rhetoric was born of Western values. "Femen's imperialist 'one size fits all' attitude shows a deafening inconsistency in their own ideology," she argued.
But Jonathan Jones in The Guardian has praised Femen's "gloriously crude" approach to protests describing them as "a blast of honesty in a dishonest age". ·