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Feminist activists in St. Petersburg hold protest to mark International Women’s Day

Feminist activists in St. Petersburg held a protest on Monday, March 8, in honor of International Women’s Day, reports the local news site Bumaga (Paper). 

The rally was organized by the “Vosmaya Initsiativnaya Gruppa” (Eighth Initiative Group), which describes itself as St. Petersburg’s united feminist movement. The protest was announced as a rally in support of domestic violence legislation, the release of political prisoners, and the fight against women’s poverty. 

According to MBX Media, around 100 people took part in the protest. They marched from the Chernyshevskaya Subway Station to Malaya Sadovaya Street, singing and dancing, and chanting slogans like “Freedom for Yulia Tsvetkova!” and “Down with the Patriarchy!”

LGBTQ artist and activist Yulia Tsvetkova, who comes from Russia’s Far Eastern City of Komsomolsk-on-Amur, has faced pressure from the authorities over her art and activism for years. She was kept under house arrest from the end of November 2019 until March 16, 2020, in connection with a criminal case on the distribution of pornography that was launched over body positive drawings that she posted in an art group that she ran on the VKontakte.

In June 2020, she was charged with the criminal distribution of pornography over the publication of drawings of vaginas on social media. Tsvetkova has also been issued multiple fines for “promoting non-traditional sexual relationships among minors” (violations of Russia’s so-called “gay propaganda” law).

Following the march, the activists took turn picketing against gender discrimination, as well as family and police violence, Bumaga reports. In total, more than 15 people took part in the pickets, according to Bumaga. 

Local police observed the protest, but did not interfere. However, local artist Ekaterina Nenasheva was detained upon leaving home on Monday. Police officers accused her of planning “an unauthorized radical protest action.” On Sunday, Nenasheva had posted on Facebook about a protest action called “Krasnaya Tsena” (Red Price), which aimed to draw attention to the problem of domestic violence. 

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