Russia. Feminist activist acquitted of absurd ‘pornography’ charges

Responding to the acquittal of feminist activist and artist Yulia Tsvetkova on charges of “disseminating pornography” for creating body positive illustrations of female sex organs, a crime punishable by six years in prison, Marie Struthers, director of Amnesty International for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, said:

“Today’s acquittal of Yulia Tsvetkova marks a rare and welcome triumph of common sense and justice over remorseless repression. In a country where state-sponsored homophobia and misogyny are the norm, Tsvetkova’s trial was a landmark affair. His acquittal must now set a new precedent that ensures that the right to freedom of expression is respected and protected for all.

“For more than three years, Yulia Tsvetkova suffered relentless mistreatment by the authorities in the form of criminal charges, fines, threats, arrests and travel restrictions, all of which were imposed solely in response to his peaceful activism.

For more than three years, Yulia Tsvetkova has suffered relentless abuse from the authorities in the form of criminal charges, fines, threats, arrests and travel restrictions.

Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia

“The Russian authorities must immediately stop targeting feminists and LGBTI activists. Instead, they should honor their international human rights obligations by creating a safe and supportive environment in which human rights defenders can work without fear of reprisal.

Background

On July 15, the Central District Court of Komsomolsk-on-Amur in Russia’s Far East acquitted Tsvetkova and cleared her of all charges. She had been accused of creating and sharing “pornographic” images – including body positive drawings of women’s bodies that depict the vagina as a beautiful flower-shaped symbol – on VKontakte, a Russian social media site.

She was arrested on November 20, 2019, and placed under house arrest until March 16, 2020. In December 2019, she was found guilty of “propaganda of non-traditional sex with minors” and fined 50,000 rubles ( $780). In July 2020, she was fined an additional 75,000 rubles ($1,050).

On June 3, 2022, the Justice Ministry added Tsvetkova to its “foreign agent” register, which is used to restrict independent NGOs, media and activists.

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