Oksana Shachko

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Oxana Shachko
Оксана Шачко
Oksana Shachko - 8 March 2009 (cropped).jpg
Shachko in 2009
Born(1987-01-31)31 January 1987
Khmelnytskyi, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union
Died23 July 2018(2018-07-23) (aged 31)
Paris, France
Other names
  • Oksana Shachko
  • Oksana Chatchko
  • Artist
  • activist
Years active2008–2018

Oxana Shachko (Ukrainian: Оксана Шачко; 31 January 1987 – 23 July 2018) was a Ukrainian artist and activist with FEMEN.[1] She was one of the founders of the feminist activist group FEMEN in April 2008, along with Anna Hutsol and Alexandra Shevchenko, a group that publicly protested in various countries against sexual exploitation, income inequality, and policies of the Roman Catholic Church, among other causes.[2]


Oxana Chatchko was born in Khmelnytsky, a typical soviet town in the western part of Ukraine, in an orthodox family.[3] Her parents both worked in a factory and when the Soviet Union collapsed the factories closed and they both lost their jobs, in a context of a political and economic crisis.[3]

In 1995, at the age of 8 Oxana Chatchko joined the Nikosh school, normally intended for adults and renowned for its teaching of orthodox iconography. She graduated from this school[4][5][6] and her early artwork was exhibited in several collective exhibitions in Ukraine and in the United States.[5] At the age of twelve she started painting frescoes, working in the orthodox church full time. She then expressed the desire to join a convent[4] and become a nun, but her mother and her family convinced her not to do so.[7]

Later, at the age of 14 she rejected the Orthodox Church and religion and became an atheist, believing that the Orthodox priests behave more like merchants than God's representatives.[7] She continued to paint though to earn a living.[8]

In 2000 she joined the free university of Khmelnytsky to study philosophy, which triggered a deep crisis of conscience.[9] At this time she started feeling upset about the lack of space devoted to women to express their ideas and their creativity.[3] She founded with other students the "Center for New Perspectives", an organisation fighting against corruption and for student rights. At this point she met Anna Hutsol and Aleksandra Shevchenko. She later indicated in the documentary film I am Femen that this experience forged her political and philosophical conceptions, making her become an activist fighting for women's rights and freedom of expression.[9]


In 2008, together with Anna Hutsol and Alexandra Shevchenko, she founded the feminist activist group FEMEN.[10] The group initially protested about issues affecting women students, but rapidly moved on to demonstrating against the sexual exploitation of Ukrainian women[11] and against sex tourism in 2008.[12][13] Initially, FEMEN gained attention by demonstrating while dressed in underwear: however, in August 2009 Shachko bared her breasts at a protest in Kiev.[14] Since then FEMEN activists have regularly protested topless, and broadened their agenda to women's rights and civil rights in Ukraine and around the world.[15]

Shachko protesting in nudity during a FEMEN protest in support of Aliaa Magda Elmahdy on March 2012

Members of FEMEN, including Okasana, were detained on numerous occasions. Probably the worst episode had happen in 2011, when a group of activists demanded release of political prisoners in the Belarusian capital Minsk. Oxana and two other women were kidnapped by the Belarusian KGB, taken to a forest, made to strip, doused with oil and threatened with being set on fire [16][17]

Shachko worked together with French writer Galia Ackerman who produced a history of FEMEN which was published by Calmann-Lévy in 2013.[18] In 2014 the award winning documentary film about Shachko, Je suis Femen (I am Femen) by filmmaker Alain Margot was released.

France granted her political refugee status in 2013, after several attacks by security forces connected to Vladimir Putin, a target of FEMEN protests along with the French Front National.[19] She lived in Paris working as a painter.


At the time of her death Shachko was concentrating on her artworks, called Iconoclast: Orthodox icons painted in the traditional method, onto which she introduced transgressives details to confront religious dogma with feminist, political or humanist messages. Shachko had her first solo exhibition in Paris on May 2016.[5]


Shachko was found dead in her apartment in Paris, France, on 23 July 2018. She was 31. Anna Hutsol told Ukrayinska Pravda that friends were awaiting an official report.[20] It was reported that she hanged herself.[21][22][23]

Art reviews[edit]

  • "Oksana Shachko: from Femen to painter", by Armelle le Turc, Crash, winter 2017-2018.
  • "Oksana Shachko: Counter-Religious Iconography", text by Stacey Batashova, video by Apollonaria Broche, 032C, October 4, 2016.
  • "Oksana Shachko, une Femen en pleine crise de foi", by Sabrina Silamo, Télérama on May 14, 2016.[24]
  • "Oksana Shachko : l'ex-Femen iconoclaste expose sa Vierge Marie en burqa", by Ronan Tésorière and Amandine Pointel, Le Parisien on June 3, 2016.[25]
  • "Elle quitte les Femen pour peindre des icônes religieuses", by Jérémy André and Jérôme Wysocki, Le Point on January 13, 2016.[26]


  • "Je suis Femen" (I'm Femen), documentary film (1hour 35 mins), written and directed by Alain Margot, produced by Caravel Production (Switzerland) and Luminor Films Distribution (France), 2014.[27]
  • "Naked War", documentary film (58 mins), written and directed by Joseph Paris, produced by La Clairière Production (France),[28] LCP La Chaîne Parlmentaire (France) and Arte Distribution (France/Germany), 2014.[29][30]
  • "Nos seins, nos armes!" (Our breasts, our weapons!), documentary film (1hour 10 mins), written and directed by Caroline Fourest and Nadia El Fani, produced by Nilaya Productions, aired on France 2 on 5 March 2013.[31]
  • "Everyday Rebellion", documentary film (1hour 58 mins), written and directed by the Riahi Brothers Arash T. Riahi and Arman Riahi, Austria / Switzerland / Germany, 2013.
  • Ukraine Is Not a Brothel

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Notes on the Death of Oxana Shachko". The Paris Review. 2018-08-06. Retrieved 2018-08-30. A deeply religious child, she came to identify as an atheist, a materialist, a communist, and, at last, a feminist.
  2. ^ Ivan Nechepurenko (2018-07-26). "Ukrainian activist Oksana Shachko co-founded women's rights group Femen". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2018-08-30. Ms. Shachko and several other activists founded Femen in 2008. After a few conventional protests, they decided to demonstrate topless, often with political slogans written on their bodies.
  3. ^ a b c "A MEETING WITH OKSANA SHACHKO - CRASH Magazine". CRASH Magazine. 2018-07-25. Retrieved 2018-08-07.
  4. ^ a b "Oksana Chatchko : mort d'une Femen désabusée". Libération.fr (in French). Retrieved 2018-08-07.
  5. ^ a b c "ICONOCLASTE // Oksana Shachko". Galerie Mansart (in French). Retrieved 2018-07-25.
  6. ^ "Oksana Chatchko, première des Femen... et peintre d'icônes orthodoxes". La Croix (in French). 2018-07-25. ISSN 0242-6056. Retrieved 2018-08-07.
  7. ^ a b "'Oksana Shachko Invented a Grammar of Activism': How the Co-Founder of FEMEN Used Art as a Powerful Feminist Statement". artnet News. 2018-07-26. Retrieved 2018-08-07.
  8. ^ "Pour Oxana Shachko, les Femen sont "sexy ET en colère!"". Le Temps (in French). Retrieved 2018-08-07.
  9. ^ a b "Oksana SHACHKO". www.leshommessansepaules.com. Retrieved 2018-08-07.
  10. ^ "The femen phenomenon". Reuters.
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-09-06. Retrieved 2013-09-06.
  12. ^ Feminine Femen targets 'sexpats', Kyiv Post (May 22, 2009)
  13. ^ How they protest prostitution in Ukraine, France 24 (August 28, 2009)
  14. ^ (in French) Femen Les féministes venues du froid, Paris Match (February 18, 2012)
  15. ^ FEMEN activist Supports the Egyptian Revolution Archived 2011-07-01 at the Wayback Machine.
  16. ^ We met death squads (Russian)
  17. ^ Trio 'abducted and abused' for Belarus topless protest by BBC
  18. ^ "FEMEN Book (2013)". FEMEN.info. 6 March 2013. Archived from the original on 5 April 2013. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
  19. ^ Vagianos, Alanna (2018-07-25). "Co-Founder Of Feminist Group Femen Found Dead In Paris". HuffPost. Retrieved 2018-07-26.
  20. ^ "Co-founder of feminist topless protest group found dead in her Paris apartment". Independent.co.uk. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  21. ^ Nechepurenko, Ivan (27 July 2018). "Oksana Shachko, a Founder of Feminist Protest Movement, Dies at 31". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 July 2018.
  22. ^ "Femen co-founder Oksana Shachko found dead in Paris flat". The Guardian. Agence France-Presse. 24 July 2018. Retrieved 24 July 2018.
  23. ^ Paris killed her. Life and death of Oksana Shachko (Russian) by RFE/RL
  24. ^ "Oksana Shachko, une Femen en pleine crise de foi". Telerama.fr.
  26. ^ Wysocki, Jérôme (13 January 2016). "Elle quitte les Femen pour peindre des icônes religieuses". Lepoint.fr.
  27. ^ "Je suis Femen (2014)". Caravelproduction.ch.
  28. ^ "NAKED WAR - LaClairière Production". Laclairiereproduction.com.
  29. ^ Paris, Joseph. "naked war - un film de Joseph Paris". Joseph Paris.
  30. ^ "Droit de suite - Femen : Naked War". LCP Assemblée nationale.
  31. ^ "Nos seins, nos armes (2012) - Documentaire - L'essentiel - Télérama.fr". Television.telerama.fr. Retrieved 2013-09-29.

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