Published: 13 July 2020

Image Courtesy: The Calvert Journal

In Russia, portraying women’s bodies can get you arrested.

Yulia Tsvetkova, a Russian artist, has been criminally charged with “production and dissemination of pornographic materials” after she shared stylized depictions of vaginas on social media. Trouble with authorities started after Yulia planned to stage a play called “Blue and Pink” about gender stereotypes in her city. She ultimately cancelled the play due to pressure from the authorities. “I don’t know which was worse for the authorities, the play about gender, which they don’t understand, and they are afraid of, or the other play, which was pretty political, very sharp. I guess it’s the combination of both that got me here,” Tsvetkova said over a phone call. “After that I was called to the police station every week or every other week.”

Tsvetkova was fined 75,000 roubles ($1,000) on Friday on charges of spreading “gay propaganda” among minors by publishing drawings of same-sex couples with children online. The court in the eastern city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur confirmed the 27-year-old had been fined under a 2013 law that bans disseminating “propaganda on non-traditional sexual relations” among young Russians – legislation condemned by rights groups.

The pornography charge came after the police discovered a group called “The Vagina Monologues” (named after V’s play) that Tsvetkova founded and moderated on Russian social media network VKontakte. Yulia is currently unable to leave her town and is waiting for a court date. If convicted, Yulia faces up to 6 years in prison.

We must stand with Yulia and RISE in her defense.

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