Updated at 14:38,23-10-2020

Interior ministry extends probe into Femen activists' abduction allegation

The interior ministry has extended its probe in connection with the allegation by three members of Ukraine's women's rights group Femen that they were abducted and terrorized by Belarusian state security men following their topless protest in front of the KGB headquarters in Minsk on December 19, a ministry spokesman told BelaPAN on Tuesday.

It is not yet know when it is completed, but under national regulations, it may not take more than a month, the spokesman said.

The inquiry is carried out at the initiative of the police, said the ministry's press office earlier.

The phones of the three Femen activists went dead several hours after their December 19 anti-Lukashenka protest. Their whereabouts were not known until the next afternoon, when they phoned an associate to say that they had been abducted, beaten, abused and dumped in a forest near the Ukrainian border, with their phones and passports taken away. After spending a few hours in the forest, they finally arrived at a village located kilometers away from the Ukrainian border, where they asked a man to give them his phone to make the call.

They were interviewed by police, and the Ukrainian consul arrived at the scene. The women returned to Ukraine in the early hours of December 21.

They said at a news conference in Kyiv that they were abducted at the Uskhodni bus station in Minsk on the evening of December 19 by six men, who introduced themselves as police officers and bundled the activists into two vehicles. After riding around the city for hours, the men blindfolded the women and handed them over to a group of other men, who the women said introduced themselves as activists of Russia`s ultra-nationalist Russian National Unity ("RNE"). The women were taken to the woods, beaten, forced to undress and hold Nazi banners, and doused with brilliant green. Everything was videotaped, said the Femen activists.