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Russian LGBTQ activist and artist Yulia Tsvetkova goes on hunger strike

Over the weekend, artist and LGBTQ rights activist Yulia Tsvetkova, who is facing charges for the criminal distribution of pornography over drawings she posted on social media, announced a hunger strike.

In a Facebook post published on the activist’s behalf by her mother, Anna Khodyreva, Tsvetkova said her main demand is for the authorities speed up the consideration of her case, which has been drawn out for nearly two years.

“The case was sent repeatedly for ‘further investigation’ and (very dubious) evidence was shoved into it again and again. They weren’t able to confirm the indictment. They weren’t able to appoint a court. Now the hearings are held once a month. Two years of investigation. Two years of a life stolen. For reposts [on social media] And these two years won’t even be counted towards the term [of the sentence], because I am under the mildest measure of restraint.” 

Tsvetkova called on the state “be a man” and open the proceedings against her, and give her the opportunity to defend herself by all legal methods, including via a public defender.

Am I scared? Yes, I guess. But I don’t have much to lose. My health has been compromised for a long time. Thanks to the actions of the state, [I have] almost no connections in the form of work, colleagues, or friends left. I have only my dignity, and now I’m glad that I’m doing what my conscience says.

Yulia Tsvetkova

The criminal investigation into Yulia Tsvetkova, who is from the Far Eastern city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur, was opened in November 2019. She was kept under house arrest until March 2020, at which point she was released on a written undertaking not to leave. State investigators charged her with the criminal distribution of pornography in June 2020.

Tsvetkova has faced pressure from the authorities due to her art and activism for more than two years now. In particular she has been fined repeatedly over her artwork under Russia’s “gay propaganda law,” which prohibits the promotion of “non-traditional sexual relationships” among minors.

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