Topless Protesters Take on Georgia over Photographer Arrests
In Georgia, some newspapers and wire agencies took photos off their stories this week to protest the arrest of three Georgian photographers on espionage charges. In Ukraine, a group of women protesters outside Georgia's embassy in Kyiv tried a different tactic -- they took off their tops.
The sight was apparently a bit too much for one embassy guard who threw a kick-and-punch fit when the topless protesters started demonstrating in front of the embassy, attracting a horde of male photographers in the process.
Holding fake cameras, the handful of women, members of Ukraine's FEMEN protest group, who routinely go au naturel to protest various ills, teetered around in underpants emblazoned with the word “press.” Their backs featured images of a crossed-out camera, a symbol used by many Georgian journalists to protest the photographers' arrest.
As a video clip of the incident made the rounds on Facebook, the embassy issued an apology for the guard's behavior to "those who attended the gathering, journalists and the Ukrainian people." The guard has since gotten the sack. But the PR problems related to the photographers’ case do not end there.
At home, the Georgian government, now with videotaped confessions from two of the three charged photographers, still faces considerable media anger over the arrests. National Security Council Secretary Giga Bokeria again this week denied allegations of a political motive for the arrests, while Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze has insisted the government's evidence is "weighty." Nonetheless, the local protests continue -- as yet, fully dressed.