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The body-positive pornography accusation is not Yulia Tsvetkova's first run-in with the law this month.

KOMSOMOLSK-NA-AMURE, Russia -- Yulia Tsvetkova thought she was doing something useful when she launched a hashtag campaign last summer with the slogan "A woman is not a doll" (#женщина_не_кукла).

"This project is aimed at reminding us that women are living beings and that our bodies are not ideal and are subject to changes," she wrote at the time. "Women are not dolls. And that is wonderful."

She illustrated her campaign with six hand-drawn images with texts like "Real women have body hair, and that is normal" or "Real women menstruate, and that is normal."

But on March 21, the 25-year-old artist and activist in the Far Eastern city of Komsomolsk-na-Amure was summoned by police for questioning.

"As I understood it, they are gathering information," Tsvetkova told RFE/RL. "It is a new complaint and a new case. They threatened me with prosecution, but for now they aren't saying any more."

Yulia Tsvetkova saw nothing provocative in her body-positive campaign Women Are Not Dolls. The police see things differently.
Yulia Tsvetkova saw nothing provocative in her body-positive campaign Women Are Not Dolls. The police see things differently.

The problem, she said, is that police received an anonymous complaint that the images were pornographic and that Tsvetkova is "corrupting children" by posting them online and in the Merak children's theater that she operates.

"Do you see any pornography here?" she wrote in a post on the VK social-media site on March 22 in which she described her interrogation and reposted the images in question.

"I propose adding to the hastag Feminism Is Not Extremism (#феминизмНЕэкстремизм) a new one -- Body-Positive Is Not Extremism (#бодипозитивНЕэкстримизм)," she wrote. "Because if they have already started coming after images of real women, then we cannot be silent. But be careful when you are drawing body-positive sketches. I didn't think they could find anything provocative in this -- but it turns out that they can if they really want to. Be careful!"

The body-positive pornography accusation is not Tsvetkova's first run-in with the law this month. On March 14, she was questioned for three hours by the local office of the Interior Ministry's anti-extremism center about a youth theater festival that she was organizing. Her interrogation came a couple of days after police appeared at a festival rehearsal and questioned the children performing in it.

The planned festival featured productions on themes including nonviolence and anti-bullying, but police were focused on one called Pink And Blue, a performance about gender stereotypes.

"It is about pressure, about little boys and girls," Tsvetkova said of the show. "It is about the fact that one's personality is more important than stereotypes."

The name of the performance, she said, was the brainchild of an 11-year-old actor in the troupe.

In Russian slang, however, "pink" and "blue" can be used to refer to lesbians and gay men.

One young actor in Tsvetkova's troupe said that he felt "defenseless and stupid" during his questioning by the Interior Ministry.
One young actor in Tsvetkova's troupe said that he felt "defenseless and stupid" during his questioning by the Interior Ministry.

Officials accused Tsvetkova of illegally trying to hold a gay-pride event under the guise of a youth theater festival.

"The administration accuses me of bringing depravity from Europe because I lived there," Tsvetkova told RFE/RL. "And that is an argument they are using to shut the festival down. It really is the Stone Age."

One 15-year-old actor told RFE/RL that he felt "defenseless and stupid" during his questioning.

"They kept asking the same things: 'Did you ever discuss LGBT issues?'" he said, referring to the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender people. "'Did Yulia tell you about that? Did you learn about gays from her?' I told them that anything I know about that I learned from the Internet, the media, my friends, and that it never came up in the theater. But they kept asking me over and over."

The festival, scheduled for March 16-17, was canceled on March 15 when the owner of the venue pulled the plug. Tsvetkova said he was pressured by the administration -- an accusation that municipal spokesman Ivan Lavrentyev denied.

"The man doesn't work in any structure connected with the city, so how could we pressure him?" Lavrentyev told RFE/RL. "As far as I know, no one from the administration of the city was involved in this. We heard that [festival organizers] have problems with law enforcement. We know that. But that is not our job."

The festival was scheduled to be held in February, but the owner of the original venue also got cold feet and organizers were forced to relocate the event to another location on the outskirts of the city.

Ukrainian citizen Pavlo Hryb at his court hearing in Rostov-on-Don on March 22.

A Russian court has sentenced ailing 20-year-old Ukrainian Pavlo Hryb to six years in prison after convicting him of "promoting terrorism," a charge he contends was fabricated by the Federal Security Service (FSB).

Pavlo Hryb's father, Ihor, condemned the March 22 verdict as a "death sentence for Pavlo...who needs an urgent medical operation in order to live."

"If there is no urgent action, we will see his death within a month," Ihor Hryb told Current Time, a Russian-language network led by RFE/RL in cooperation with VOA.

Ukraine denounced the March 22 verdict by the North Caucasus Regional Court, calling it "unlawful," and Hryb announced a hunger strike to protest the ruling as well as his treatment in jail and "everything that is happening."

Hryb said he had been "denied medical treatment" while in custody and that Ukraine's human rights ombudswoman, Lyudmyla Denisova, had been prevented from visiting him.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry demanded the "immediate reversal of the unlawful sentence" and called for Hryb's "release and unimpeded return to Ukraine." In a statement, it also urged Russian authorities to provide Hryb with medical treatment.

Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin blasted Russia as Ukraine's "invader" and an "aggressor state" that does not know the concepts of "mercy, humanity, and dignity."

"The Russian pseudo-judiciary has sentenced the seriously ill Pavlo Hryb to six years in prison," Klimkin tweeted. "I urge the civilized world to put pressure on the Russian Federation to ensure his speedy release."

'Bandits And Murderers'

On March 21, in his final statement at the trial in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, Hryb asserted that the charge against him was fabricated by the Russian FSB and called its officers "bandits and murderers."

Hryb also wished "all the Ukrainian patriots" who are in Russian custody the strength to withstand their ordeals "decently, with truth and dignity," ending his statement by shouting "Glory to Ukraine!"

Hryb disappeared in August 2017 after he traveled to Belarus to meet a woman he met online.

Relatives believe he walked into a trap set by the FSB, which later told Ukraine that Hryb was being held in a detention center in Russia on suspicion of promoting terrorism.

Ihor Hryb said that his son was detained when he was returning from Belarus to Ukraine.

"When he was already walking with a ticket in his pocket to the railway station in order to leave [the Belarusian city of] Homel for Ukraine, he was seized by special service officers," he told Current Time.

"Either they were Belarusians, or it was the FSB. But in any case, it was done with the assistance of the Belarusian special services," he added.

Russian investigators accuse Hryb of using the Internet to try to convince a teenage girl in the Russian city of Sochi to set off a bomb at a high-school graduation ceremony.

Ihor Hryb has argued that Russia's case against his son was in retaliation for his Internet posts, which were openly critical of Moscow's interference in Ukraine.

In his statement at the trial, Hryb also said that "nobody would have thought" that Belarus might be "in fact, a dangerous country for Ukrainians," where Russia's secret services could abduct them.

Medical Condition

Hryb felt unwell during the hearing on March 21 and an ambulance was called to the courtroom.

His relatives and a doctor in Ukraine said earlier that he had a medical condition -- portal hypertension, a kind of high blood pressure.

Denisova said in January that Hryb's medical condition had worsened in Russian custody and that he needed a heart surgery.

The European Union has called on Moscow to release all Ukrainian citizens "illegally detained" both in Russia and in Ukraine's Russia-annexed Crimea.

The dozens of Ukrainians jailed or imprisoned in Russia for what Kyiv says are political reasons include film director Oleh Sentsov -- who opposed Russia's takeover of Crimea, is serving a 20-year sentence, and held a 145-day hunger strike in 2018 -- as well as 24 seamen seized by the Russian forces near the Kerch Strait in November.

Russia took control of Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014, after sending in troops and staging a referendum dismissed as illegal by at least 100 countries.

Moscow also backs separatists in a war against government forces that has killed some 13,000 people in eastern Ukraine since April 2014.

With reporting by Current Time, UNIAN, Dozhd, Hromadske, and Interfax

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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