Russian LGBT+ feminist faces six years in prison over vagina drawings in ‘absurd’ pornography trial

Russian feminist Yulia Tsvetkova faces six years in jail for vagina drawings

The trial has begun in Russia of LGBT+ feminist Yulia Tsvetkova, who is accused of spreading porn after posting drawings of women’s naked bodies online.

Tsvetkova has previously been fined twice for spreading “gay propaganda” with her colourful drawings of LGBT+ families.

She now faces up to six years in jail as she stands trial in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, a city in far east Russia.

The charges are thought to be linked to her group on social site VKontakte, where she posted photos of her drawings of women’s bodies online in an attempt to break down stigma and celebrate women.

Tsvetkova, who was first detained 18 months ago and spent four months under house arrest in relation to the “gay propaganda” charges, is not allowed to share details of the allegations against her. Her mother, Anna Khodyreva, told the Associated Press that the court should dismiss the case.

Tsvetkova’s lawyer, Irina Ruchko, told local reporters after the first day of the hearing that Yulia Tsvetkova maintains her innocence and her defence team aims to prove it in court. Her case is being heard behind closed doors with no public or press allowed in.

Amnesty International said the case is “Kafkaesque absurdity” and urged Russian authorities to drop it, saying the activist was just “expressing her views through art”.

Natalia Zviagina, Amnesty International’s Moscow Office Director, said: “During this ordeal, Yulia has spent time under house arrest and twice been subjected to extortionate fines under the so-called ‘gay propaganda’ law”.

Vladimir Putin and his government banned so-called “gay propaganda” in 2013, prohibiting the “promotion of non-traditional sexual relations to minors”. Under his rule, sharing information about LGBT+ people’s lives can earn a person a prison sentence.

In July 2020, Yulia Tsvetkova was prosecuted for her colourful drawings showing LGBT+ relationships. One of the drawings, called “A family where love is”, shows gay and lesbian couples with their children. Other drawings were of rainbow-coloured cats or matryoshka dolls holding hands.

Last Saturday (10 April), an exhibition of Tsvetkova’s paintings opened in St Petersburg.

“The snowball of censorship has started to bother the artistic community very much, and we understood that if we don’t stand up for Yulia, don’t support her, any other person can be next,” said Alexei Gorbushin, an artist who organised and took part in performances support of Tsvetkova’s support.