Russian artist Yulia Tsvetkova, who faces jail for publishing feminist cartoons, goes on hunger strike


Artist and activist Yulia Tsvetkova faces criminal charges for posting pornography
Ann Khodyreva / Facebook

Yulia Tsvetkova, a 27-year-old Russian LGBTQ activist artist who faces up to six years in prison for disseminating pornography on the Internet, declared a hunger strike on May 1.

The images, posted on feminist social media group The Vagina Monologues, also include abstract images of female genitalia meant to promote body positivity. She demands that her trial, which began on April 12 in Komsomolsk-sur-Amour, in the Russian Far East, be made accessible to the public and not go on indefinitely. Tsvetkova has been fighting charges since 2019 and has spent time under house arrest.

“My requirement is simple,” Tsvetkova wrote on the Facebook page from his mother Anna Khodyreva. “I ask the state to be a man. It was Tsvetkova’s first public post in eight months.

“Do you want to judge me?” She wrote. “Please. But do it openly. I ask that my trial be open to the public, as the reasons for its closure are far-fetched.” She also spoke on behalf of others: “My case is not. unique.”

On March 31, Khodyreva, who has been a staunch defender of his daughter, posted on social media that the court had decided the trial would be closed to the public as “intimate” details could be discussed and documents “ pornographic ”examined.

Jailed opposition politician Aleksey Navalny last month went on a 24-day hunger strike to demand access to independent medical specialists. He appeared gaunt during a court hearing last week. In February 2020, the Russian Human Rights Memorial Center recognized Tsvetkova as a political prisoner. The Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam announced last October that it had acquired his drawings.

In a statement on April 9, Amnesty International said: “The Russian authorities must stop trying to hide this Kafkaesque nonsense behind closed doors” and guarantee artistic freedom.

“Am I afraid? Tsvetkova wrote in her Facebook post. “I guess I am. But I don’t have much to lose. My health was ruined some time ago. Thanks to the action of the state, I have almost no connection with work, colleagues or friends. I only have my dignity, and now I’m happy to do what my conscience tells me.

• To learn more about the involvement of artists in the feminist movement in Russia, listen to our podcast

UPDATE May 7: Yulia Tsvetkova announced via Facebook on May 7 that she had ended her hunger strike. His statement read: “For me, the first impulse was to understand that my mind is stronger than my body. The second was when I saw the scared eyes with which those who see how bad my body is looking at me. My mother, the doctors and the defense lawyers asked me to end the hunger strike. And if my hatred of cowardice and wickedness is strong, then my love for those close to me is even stronger […] Today I am ending my hunger strike because it is the right decision (just like it was right to start it).


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