Oksana Shachko
Oksana Shachko, the activist of women's rights group Femen, speaks while painting a wall of her room in Kiev, Ukraine February 21, 2012.REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

Oksana Shachko, the co-founder of Ukrainian controversial feminist group Femen, was found dead at her apartment in Paris on Monday, July 23. The 31-year-old activist left a suicide note, however, the reason behind the extreme step is still yet to be ascertained.

Femen is awaiting the police report and the post-mortem report to determine the cause of death.

In 2008, Shachko was one of the four activists who founded Femen in Ukraine. The group drew international attention for its controversial bare-breasted demonstrations against sexism. Femen had staged protests against authoritarianism and racism opposing the Ukrainian government, Russian government and the far-right Front National Party of France.

The group became famous for its slogan -- "I came, I stripped, I won" -- which has drawn both criticisms as well as praise from other feminist protest groups and the mainstream media. However, the group has been struggling due to internal divisions and legal proceedings against several of its members.

Shachko was exiled from Ukraine and had been living in France since 2013. She had later left the controversial protest group and worked independently as an artist.

Her suicide has drawn an outpouring of tribute messages from several Femen members and feminist protesters globally. Feminist activist Inna Shevchenko said: "It is with great regret and deep pain that I must confirm the death of Oksana." 

Femen co-founder Anna Gutsol took to Facebook and posted: "RIP. The most fearless and vulnerable Oksana Shachko has left us. We mourn together with her relatives and friends." 

Activists of Ukrainian women's rights group Femen
Activists of Ukrainian women's rights group Femen (L-R) Yana Zhdanova, Alexandra and Inna Shevchenko, and Oksana Shachko sit in their office in Kiev May 18, 2012.REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

Shachko was one of the three members kidnapped in 2011 by security agents in Belarus, who had forced them to strip naked in a forest. The kidnappers had threatened to set them on fire and cut off their hair after one of Femen's topless protests mocked Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko.

She was also abducted by unknown assailants during Putin's visit to Ukraine and had to be hospitalised after the assault.