KIEV A bare-breasted young woman lunged at the head of Russia's Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, on Thursday, screaming "Begone!" minutes after his plane landed in the Ukrainian capital Kiev.
The protester, an activist of local women's rights group Femen, famous for its topless protests, was intercepted and led away by security guards. The slogan "Kill Kirill" was written on her back.
Femen said in a statement they were protesting against the "illegal arrest" and "shameful trial" of the three members of Russian female punk group Pussy Riot who derided President Vladimir Putin in a protest in Moscow's main cathedral in February.
The women, who have been held in pre-trial custody for almost five months, face up to seven years in jail on charges of hooliganism for storming the altar in multi-colored masks to sing a "punk prayer" to the Virgin Mary to "Throw Putin Out!"
Femen activist Yana Zhdanova, who appeared at Kirill's greeting ceremony as a stringer for a local newspaper, was detained and faced hooliganism charges, Interfax news agency quoted police as saying.
Patriarch Kirill arrived in Ukraine to take part in celebrations of the anniversary of ancient Russia's conversion to Christianity on July 27-28.
Although Orthodox Christianity is the dominant religion in Ukraine, its Orthodox church is split into two branches, one of which refuses to recognize the Moscow Patriarchate as a superior authority.
(Reporting by Gleb Garanich; Editing by Myra MacDonald)