Femen, the controversial women's protest group which specialises in staging topless demonstrations, said three of its members were abducted last night shortly before yesterday's football match between Ukraine and France.
In an urgent release sent to supporters, Femen said the three activists complained of being followed by a group of men in the city of Donetsk. The group's headquarters in Kiev lost contact with the three women shortly after 4pm and all attempts to reach them by telephone have so far failed.
The abductions bear similarities to another incident in December last year when three Femen activists were abducted, beaten and threatened with mock executions after they protested in neighbouring Belarus. The activists taken last night were named as Alexander Shevchenko, Yana Zhdanova and Anna Bolshakova. Calls to Femen went unanswered but in the statement the group said it was "terribly worried about the life and health of our activists" because the Donetsk area was known for its criminal underworld.
Femen has attracted headlines for the tactic of stripping topless during protests in countries that are unused to public demonstrations for feminist causes. They have used the publicity surrounding the Euro 2012 competition to highlight causes, especially the plight of trafficked women forced to work in brothels.