The Russian Investigative Committee has charged artist and LGBTQ rights activist Yulia Tsvetkova with the criminal distribution of pornography. She could now face up to six years in prison.
Tsvetkova, who is from the Far Eastern city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur, told OVD-Info that she can’t share any details or information linked to the investigation, because she signed a gag order.
Tsvetkova has been under investigation as a suspect in a criminal case on distributing pornography for about six months; an offense punishable by between two and six years in prison, under the Russian Criminal Code. Tvetskova was kept under house arrest from the end of November 2019 until March 16, 2020.
The case against her was launched over the publication of drawings of vaginas in an art group called the “Vagina Monologues,” which she ran on the social networking site VKontakte. This online community is dedicated to “removing the stigma around the vagina and female physiology as a whole.”
Yulia Tsvetkova has faced pressure from the authorities due to her art and activism for over a year. In March 2019, the “Color of Saffron” festival in Komsomolsk-on-Amur was cancelled; Tsvetkova acted as a festival organizer. She claimed that the mayor’s office received complaints about a planned show on gender stereotypes titled “Pink and Blue,” which was supposed to involve the participation of children.
In December 2019, Tsvetkova was fined 50,000 rubles (approximately $728) under the Russia’s “gay propaganda law,” which prohibits the promotion of “non-traditional sexual relationships” among minors. She was also called in for questioning because of her drawings on the theme of body positivity, which law enforcement considered pornography.
A number of Russia’s high-profile public figures have spoken out in Tsvetkova’s defense, including writer Lyudmila Petrushevskaya, journalist Vladimir Pozner, television host Ksenia Sobchak, actress Renata Litvinova, and actors Maxim Matveyev and Evgeny Stychkin.