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Wednesday, 8 July 2020

Female artist faces prison in Russia for 'spreading pornography' with vagina drawings

  • Yulia Tsvetkova, 27, an activist from far-east Russia, faces pornography charges
  • The artist shared images depicting female bodies to promote body positivity
  • She faces up to six years in prison for distributing the artistic impressions on VK
  • Also faces charges of spreading 'homosexual propaganda' as an LGBTQ+ activist
A feminist activist in Russia is facing prison for 'spreading pornography' after sharing cartoon drawings of female bodies and vaginas to promote body positivity. 
Yulia Tsvetkova, 27, an artist and activist from the far-eastern city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur, could face a jail term of two to six years for distributing the artistic impressions on the VK social media platform in a group called 'Vagina Monologues'. 
The group was intended to 'remove the stigma around the vagina and female physiology as a whole' by sharing artwork, including a series of cartoons by Ms Tsvetkova captioned 'Real women have hair on their bodies — and that's normal', 'Real women have body fat and that's normal' and 'Real women have their periods and that's normal'.
Yulia Tsvetkova, 27, an artist and activist from the far-eastern city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur, could face a jail term of two to six years for distributing artistic impressions of the female body
Yulia Tsvetkova, 27, an artist and activist from the far-eastern city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur, could face a jail term of two to six years for distributing artistic impressions of the female body
Women from around the world have taken a stand to support Ms Tsvetkova by sharing photos of themselves or their own drawings of the female body - many captioning the images 'my body is not pornography'.
Prior to the charges Ms Tsvetkova ran a youth group at a theatre in her remote city, with lectures for the LGBTQ+ community and sex education classes - which are banned in Russian schools, reports DW.
Following a six-month investigation into the social media group Ms Tsvetkova is under strict travel restrictions while awaiting trial in her home city for pornography charges.
Ms Tsvetkova is facing charges for sharing artwork, including a series of cartoons captioned 'Real women have hair on their bodies ¿ and that's normal'
The images are captioned: 'Real women have body fat and that's normal' and 'Real women have their periods and that's normal'
Ms Tsvetkova is facing charges for sharing artwork, including a series of cartoons captioned 'Real women have hair on their bodies — and that's normal', 'Real women have body fat and that's normal' and 'Real women have their periods and that's normal'
She also faces charges of spreading 'homosexual propaganda' for her work as an LGBTQ+ activist. 
Ms Tsvetkova is being supported by Amnesty International
Ms Tsvetkova is being supported by Amnesty International
Ms Tsvetkova is being supported by Amnesty International and the Russian NGO Memorial who have declared her a political prisoner.
Petitions for the charges against her to be dropped have reached 250,000 signatures, with around 40 protesters arrested in Moscow for demonstrating against her case at the end of last month. 
Ms Tsvetkova said she was first cautioned by police after running two plays that focused on gender stereotypes and militarism in early 2019, she told DW: 'Our authorities don't like either topic and I think it was the combination of the two [that got me in trouble].'
Speaking about the charge of pornography she added: 'I know what pornography looks like and this isn't it!' 
A group of LGBT activists showing posters reading ' Freedom for Yulia Tsvetkova' inside a police bus after being detained in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, June 27, 2020
A group of LGBT activists showing posters reading ' Freedom for Yulia Tsvetkova' inside a police bus after being detained in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, June 27, 2020
Ms Tsvetkova also faces charges of spreading 'homosexual propaganda' for her work as an LGBTQ+ activist
Ms Tsvetkova also faces charges of spreading 'homosexual propaganda' for her work as an LGBTQ+ activist
Despite stating she will continue to work as an activist Ms Tsvetkova told The Art Newspaper: 'I’m trying not to lose hope but in Russia only 1 per cent of cases are acquitted. 
'This suggests that I only have a 1 per cent [chance] to get out of this completely free. Such a disappointing forecast.'
Tanya Lokshina, associate director for Human Rights Watch in Europe and Central Asia, told DW: 'What is happening is a witch-hunt against someone who stands out and thinks differently. And that is unacceptable under Russian and international law.'   

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