Inna Shevchenko

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Inna Shevchenko
Інна Шевченко
Inna Shevchenko, 2010 (cropped).jpg
Inna Shevchenko, in 2010
Born (1990-06-23) 23 June 1990 (age 28)
Alma materTaras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv
OccupationFeminist activist

Inna Shevchenko (Ukrainian: Інна Шевченко) is a feminist activist and the leader of international women's movement FEMEN, which often demonstrates topless against what they perceive as manifestations of patriarchy, especially dictatorship, religion, and the sex industry.[2][3] Shevchenko has a higher profile than the other members of the group. She was the leader of the three FEMEN activists reputedly kidnapped and threatened by the Belarus KGB in 2011.[4] She achieved attention in Ukraine by cutting with a chainsaw and then bringing down a 4-metre high Christian cross in central Kiev in 2012.[5]

In 2013, Shevchenko was granted asylum in France,[1] and now continues her activism by leading FEMEN France from a training base she has established in Paris.[5]

In July 2013, Olivier Ciappa, who together with David Kawena designed a new French stamp depicting Marianne, stated on Twitter that Shevchenko had been the main inspiration for the depiction.[6]

Early life[edit]

Inna Shevchenko was born in Kherson near the Black Sea, on 23 June 1990.[2] Inna had a childhood 'like that of all girls. I was brought up as a typical Ukrainian, Slavic girl, and was taught not to shout or argue'. She was a 'patsanka' (tomboy) and was especially close to her father who was a military officer.[2] She also has an older sister.[7] The 2004 Orange Revolution opened her eyes to politics and in the TV shows which pitted journalists against politicians, she said the journalists 'looked more intelligent so I wanted to be one'.[2] She went to university at the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv from 2008 until 2012 where she studied journalism and graduated with honours.[2] Her extracurricular activity as a leader of the student government gave her political connections that helped land her a job in 2009 working for the Mayor's press office in Kiev.[2] Shevchenko's first language is Russian,[8][a 1] although she is also fluent in Ukrainian and English.[9]

Activism & FEMEN[edit]

Early years in Ukraine[edit]

Inna Shevchenko (left) and Alexandra Shevchenko prepare for the 2010 Kiev campaign.

Shevchenko made contact with two leading FEMEN activists Anna Hutsol and Alexandra Shevchenko (no relation) through the social networking site vKontakte and joined FEMEN early in 2009.[2] Anna Hutsol had formed FEMEN in Kiev on 10 April 2008, with two friends, Alexandra Shevchenko and Oksana Shachko, from her hometown of Khmelnytskyi;[10] they initially protested on issues affecting woman students, but rapidly moved to demonstrating against the sexual exploitation of Ukrainian women.[11] Inna Shevchenko first demonstrated with FEMEN on 23 May 2009 in Kiev, against prostitution and under the banner, "Ukraine is not a Brothel", in collaboration with DJ Hell.[12][13] Late in August, 2009, Oksana Shachko became the first member of the group to bare her breasts during a protest; but not until 2010 did this become the usual tactic in FEMEN demonstrations, justified on the grounds that without the media attention generated by topless protests their message would not be heard.[14] In debates within FEMEN over the ethics of topless protest, Inna Shevchenko at first opposed the tactic, then was persuaded of its validity.[9] She was fired from her job in the Kiev Mayor`s press office after her arrest for taking part in a protest against the absence of women in Prime Minister Mykola Azarov's cabinet in December, 2010, a decision which had angered her very much.[15]

Asylum in France[edit]

Shevchenko (centre) plans the next campaign in Paris (2012).

On 8 September 2012, Shevchenko cut down wooden crosses at GOGBOT festival in Enschede, the Netherlands, as a protest on the arrest of Pussy Riot.,[16] following her cross-chainsawing action in Kiev in August. [17] 18 September 2012, Shevchenko established a training facility for FEMEN France in Paris.[5] 26 October 2012, when Shevchenko was giving a live interview to the Arab television channel Al Jazeera, she was asked, "Which is better for women, nudity or the paranja?" She responded by taking off her T-shirt in protest at "Medieval prejudices". The live picture was immediately cut.[18][19] In July 2013, Shevchenko was granted asylum in France.[1]

Although Shevchenko has come to think of topless protest almost as a working uniform, she still has to overcome her reluctance to bare her breasts before each demonstration.[9]

In December 2012, the French magazine Madame Figaro included Shevchenko in its list of the world`s top 20 iconic women of the year.[20]

In July 2013, Olivier Ciappa, who together with David Kawena designed a new French stamp depicting Marianne, stated on Twitter that Shevchenko had been the main inspiration for the depiction.[6] The artist Olivier Ciappa who designed the 2013 image of Marianne on French stamps has stated that the portrait is a 'mixture of several women but particularly Inna Shevchenko'. On hearing this Inna tweeted 'All homophobes, extremists, fascists will have to lick my arse when they want to send a letter'.[21]

Public speaking[edit]

Shevchenko speaking at the 2017 International Conference on Free Expression and Conscience.

Shevchenko is a speaker at conferences and a columnist for the international press. She was a speaker at a debate on the freedom of speech in Copenhagen on 14 February 2015 with cartoonist Lars Vilks. She was speaking about an illusion that in Western Europe people can fully enjoy freedom of speech when a terrorist opened fire in the lobby of the cultural centre, where the debates took place. Surviving the attack, Shevchenko later said, "Liberal voices should be louder than Kalashnikovs."

Shevchenko's TEDxKalamata talk is entitled "I will not stop speaking out loud".[22]


Inna Shevchenko is a contributor for International press. She is a columnist for International Business Times[23] Her articles were also published in The Guardian, The Huffington Post and CNN. Together with other FEMEN activists, Shevchenko wrote FEMEN: Manifeste[24] and Rebellion [25] In 2017 Inna Shevchenko has published Anatomie de l'oppression (Anatomy of oppression)with Pauline Hillier in Edition du Seuil.[26] The book touches on the responsibility of religious institutions and dogmas in the oppression of women. " Every day, new words and measures against women are delivered in the Vatican, Mecca, Jerusalem, and in synagogues, mosques and churches all around the world. Every day, women are despised, depreciated, soiled, wounded or killed. Every day, women that are hidden in public, locked up at home, deprived of education and prospects for their futures, forced to silence, humiliated, beaten, mutilated, whipped, stoned and burned, accompany us. We can no longer remain silent.The responsibility of religions in the misfortunes of the world crushes our screens and our eyes, but many still refuse to see their role in women's misfortunes. This book was written because we no longer wanted them to believe, but rather to know ", said the author. [27]


  • Tyler, Jeffrey, Topless Jihadis, Published by The Atlantic Books ( 2013), 94 pages. (English language publication)[28]
  • Ackerman, Galia, with Anna Hutsol, Oksana Shachko, Alexandra Shevchenko, & Inna Shevchenko, FEMEN, Published by Calmann-Lévy (Paris 2013), 280 pages. ISBN 978-2702144589. (French language publication)[29]
  • Caroline Fourest "INNA", Published by Grasset (Paris 2014)
  • Massimo Ceresa, "FEMEN, Inna e le streghe senza Dio", Tra le righe libri (Lucca 2016)
  • FEMEN Inna Shevchenko, Marguerite Stern, Pauline Hillier, Sarah Constantin, Lara Alcazar, Anna Hutsol and others FEMEN Manifest, Published by Utopia( 2015), (French/Spanish language publication)[30]
  • FEMEN Rebellion, Published by Edition des femmes( 2017),(French language publication) [31]
  • Inna Shevchenko, Pauline Hillier Anatomie de l'oppression, Published by Edition du Seuil( 2017),(French language publication) [32]
  • Catherine Valenti, Les Femmes qui s'engagent sont dangereuses, ( 2017),(French language publication) [33]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ukrainian is the dominant language in Western Ukraine and to a lesser extend in Central Ukraine; while Russian is the dominant language in Eastern Ukraine and Southern Ukraine (Source: Serhy Yekelchyk Ukraine: Birth of a Modern Nation, Oxford University Press (2007), ISBN 978-0-19-530546-3).


  1. ^ a b c "Femen topless protester wins French asylum". BBC. 8 July 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Jeffrey Tayler (2013-03-13). "The Woman Behind Femen's Topless Protest Movement - Jeffrey Tayler". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2013-07-15.
  3. ^ "FEMEN". FEMEN. Retrieved 2013-09-29.
  4. ^ Rfe/Rl (2011-12-21). "Ukrainian Activist Group Accuses Belarusian KGB Of Kidnapping, Abuse". Retrieved 2013-07-15.
  5. ^ a b c Kira Cochrane (20 March 2013). "Rise of the naked female warriors". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 15 July 2013.
  6. ^ a b Angelique Chrisafis (15 July 2013). "Femen-inspired postage stamp angers French right". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 July 2013.
  7. ^ Kim Willsher (2013-08-02). "FEMEN is coming: the bare-breasted feminist group who want London women to go topless in the name of political protest - London Life - Life & Style - London Evening Standard". Retrieved 2013-09-29.
  8. ^ Page 31 FEMEN Ackerman, Galia et al. 2013. calmann-levy. ISBN 978-2-7021-4458-9
  9. ^ a b c "FEMEN". FEMEN. 2012-04-11. Archived from the original on 2013-10-02. Retrieved 2013-09-29.
  10. ^ Garanich, Gleb. "The femen phenomenon | Photographers Blog". Retrieved 2013-07-15.
  11. ^ Piotr Pogorzelski. "New Eastern Europe - Ukraine is not a Brothel". Archived from the original on 2013-09-06. Retrieved 2013-07-15.
  12. ^ Page 96 FEMEN Ackerman, Galia et al. 2013. calmann-levy. ISBN 978-2-7021-4458-9
  13. ^ "How they protest prostitution in Ukraine | The Observers". 2009-08-28. Retrieved 2013-07-15.
  14. ^ (in French) Femen Les féministes venues du froid Archived 2013-01-10 at the Wayback Machine, Paris Match (18 February 2012)
  15. ^ Balmforth, Tom. "Offbeat Ukrainian Feminist Group Fights Sexism And Authoritarianism". Retrieved 2013-07-15.
  16. ^ Voice of Russia. "1000s articles on Pussy Riot Protest in Enschede" (PDF).[permanent dead link]
  17. ^ Huffington Post (2012-08-17). "Pussy Riot Trial: Topless FEMEN Activist Chainsaws Memorial Cross In Ukraine".
  18. ^ "FEMEN activist takes tops off on live Al Jazeera program". Retrieved 2013-07-15.
  19. ^ "Femen Member Is Taking Off Clothes On Live Al Jazeera Program". YouTube. 2012-11-16. Retrieved 2013-07-15.
  20. ^ "FEMEN". FEMEN. 2012-12-19. Archived from the original on 2013-10-02. Retrieved 2013-09-29.
  21. ^ "BBC News - Femen's Inna Shevchenko inspired France's Marianne stamp". 2013-07-15. Retrieved 2013-09-29.
  22. ^ Inna Shevchenko (29 July 2015). "I will not stop speaking out loud". YouTube. TEDxKalamata. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  23. ^ "Articles by Inna Shevchenko". International Business Times. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  24. ^ FEMEN: Manifeste. Paris: Les éditions Utopia. 2015. p. 64. ISBN 978-2919160174.
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2017-11-07. Retrieved 2017-11-07.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  28. ^
  29. ^ "Femen Book (2013) | FEMEN / ФЕМЕН". Archived from the original on 2013-04-05. Retrieved 2013-07-15.
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^ "Nos seins, nos armes (2012) - Documentaire - L'essentiel - Télé". Retrieved 2013-09-29.

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