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Femen protesters held in Ukraine after topless protest near Crimean Parliament

Two women with 'stop Putin's war' on their chests were seen being dragged away by guards

Two members of Femen have been detained in Crimea's capital today after staging a topless protest near the regional parliament.

Dramatic pictures show security guards, believed to be Cossack irregulars, dragging the women who had 'stop Putin's war' written across their chests away from the Autonomous Republic building in Simferopol.

Femen released a statement on their website saying their members had been "severely beaten" by "pro-Russian activists" and arrested. Video footage has also emerged showing the women being carried away by security guards before being put into a police van.

Their demonstration comes after MPs in the Ukrainian region voted to join Russia and announced a referendum on the status of Crimea will be held on 16 March.

Warning: Contains images some viewers may find distressing


A referendum had been already scheduled in Crimea on 30 March, but the question to be put to voters was on whether their region should enjoy "state autonomy" within Ukraine.

In April last year, three members of the women's rights group disrupted Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to a trade fair in the German city of Hanover, and were pictured just inches away from the President while shouting "dictator".

Mr Putin laughed off the protest against him, telling a news conference later that: "Regarding this performance, I liked it."

Video courtesy of Femen