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Rights Group Says Ukraine Separatists Release Russian LGBT Activist, Musician

Seroye Fioletovoye (center, aka Oleg Vasliyev and Maria Shtern) used to belong to the Russian art group Voina, which garnered international attention with its daring antiestablishment stunts.

Human rights workers say a Russian LGBT activist and an associate have returned to Russia after they were detained by Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Two representatives of the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) told RFE/RL on February 14 that transgender activist Seroye Fioletovoye (Gray Purple) and musician Viktoria Miroshnichenko had crossed into Russia territory following their disappearance two weeks ago.

HRW's Tanya Lokshina said the two had been detained in a separatist-controlled area of Ukraine's Donetsk region.

Fioletovoye, who was born Oleg Vasliyev and also goes by the name Maria Shtern, had reportedly planned to stage a protest in support of LGBT rights.

Lokshina and a Kyiv-based rights activist, Tanya Cooper, said they confirmed the two were in Russia's southern Rostov region on February 14.

Both HRW and Amnesty International had urged separatist leaders to release the two, who were missing after traveling to eastern Ukraine on January 31.

The Russia-backed separatists have been accused by rights groups and Western governments of illegal detentions and abuses, including torture.

Fioletovoye is a former member of the Russian art group Voina, which drew international attention with its daring antigovernment stunts and spawned the dissident art collective Pussy Riot.

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