A topless activist was captured on camera on Friday while chainsawing a crucifix in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev. Inna Shevchenko, 22, told RBK News she tore down the symbol in support of the members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot.

Shevchenko, of the activist group FEMEN, destroyed the four-meter high wooden crucifix, just as a Moscow court was due to deliver its verdict in the Pussy Riot case, Reuters details.

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activist chainsaws crucifix pussy riot
Photo credit: YouTube/rtrussia

“We want to show the authorities that no imbecile has the right to trample on freedom of speech and the rights of women and shut [Pussy Riot] away in jail,” a FEMEN spokesperson told Russian news agency RT.

"No business, not even one as successful as the church, has the right to attack women's rights," 22-year-old Shevchenko said, according to Reuters.

pussy riot femen protest
Photo credit: YouTube/rtrussia

Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alekhina, and Yekaterina Samutsevich had been arrested in March after performing a "punk prayer" in Moscow's main cathedral, high-kicking and dancing while singing "Virgin Mary, drive Putin away!" The incident occurred just two weeks before Vladimir Putin won Russia's presidency for the third time at the end of 2011.

On Friday, Judge Marina Syrova found the three guilty of "hooliganism driven by religious hatred." Each was sentenced to two years in prison.

The trial, which has been touted as an example of Russia's intolerance of dissent, has drawn international outrage -- with protesters in and outside Russia standing up in support of the feminist band. Celebrities including Paul McCartney and Madonna have also called for the women's freedom.

Amnesty International strongly condemned Friday's court's ruling, calling it a "bitter blow" for freedom of expression in Russia.

pussy riot
Photo credit: AP

Shevchenko's protest in Kiev, dubbed a "trash prayer" in recognition of Pussy Riot's cathedral stunt, has elicited mixed responses.

While some have lauded Shevchenko's act of defiance, others say that the activist may have taken things a little too far.

The cross, which bore a figure of Jesus Christ, was erected in 2005 on a hilltop overlooking Kiev's city center and served as a memorial to the victims of Stalinist repression and the famine of the 1930s, Reuters writes.

The news service reports that Ukrainian religious groups and relatives of Stalin's victims condemned the action.

Some critics took to social networking sites such as Twitter to express their outrage.

""FEMEN activists cut down the cross over the Maidan [Nezalezhnosti] (Kiev's central square) in support of #Pussy Riot." [I] don't consider myself a religious person. But this is fu**ed up," tweeted @avealyona on Friday.

"Everyone's gone mad! Another cheap fame seeker." wrote another user @evgeniiya.

According to reports, a criminal case for hooliganism has been formally opened in connection with the incident.

To watch the video of Shevchenko chainsawing the crucifix, see below.

Warning: The video is NSFW.


h/t: Superchief.tv

For more images of pro-Pussy Riot protests around the world, click through this slideshow:

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  • A security guard at the Christ the Saviour Cathedral, right, runs toward Pussy Riot supporters holding Cyrillic letters reading "Blessed are The Merciful" in Moscow, Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012. (AP Photo/Novaya Gazeta, Yevgeny Feldman)

  • An unidentified supporter of Pussy Riot speaks to the assembled press outside the Christ the Saviour Cathedral, in Moscow, Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

  • Mikhail Kriger

    Russian police officers detain opposition activist Mikhail Kriger during an unsanctioned opposition rally in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Aug. 10, 2012. (AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel)

  • Peaches

    Background actors wearing masks perform during the recording of a music video of Canadian musician and performance artist Peaches in support of members of the feminist punk group Pussy Riot in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2012. (AP Photo/dapd/Adam Berry)

  • Background actors show a balloon shaped as a mouth reading "Free Pussy Riot" during the recording of a music video of Canadian musician and performance artist Peaches in support of members of the feminist punk group Pussy Riot in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2012. (AP Photo/dapd/Adam Berry)

  • Masked female activists demonstrate in support of members of the feminist punk group Pussy Riot in front of the Russian Embassy in Berlin, Germany, Thursday Aug. 9, 2012. (AP Photo/dapd/Oliver Lang)

  • Peaches

    Canadian musician and performance artist Peaches, left, talks to actors wearing masks during the recording of a video of in support of members of the feminist punk group Pussy Riot in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2012. (AP Photo/dapd/Adam Berry)

  • Peaches

    Background actors wearing masks perform during the recording of a music video of Canadian musician and performance artist Peaches in support of members of the feminist punk group Pussy Riot in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2012. (AP Photo/dapd/Adam Berry)

  • Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alekhina Yekaterina Samutsevich

    Feminist punk group Pussy Riot members, from left, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alekhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich sit in a glass cage at a court room in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2012. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

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