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Russian LGBT Activist On Trial For 'Pornography' Launches Hunger Strike

Yulia Tsvetkova
Yulia Tsvetkova

A Russian LGBT activist and artist has declared a hunger strike to protest the proceedings of her closed-door trial on pornography charges.

Yulia Tsvetkova's trial began on April 12 after a nearly 1 1/2-year investigation, during which time she has been fined for spreading LGBT "propaganda" and put under house arrest in the city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur, in Russia's Far East.

Tsvetkova, 27, is charged with producing and distributing pornographic material for administering a page on social media called The Vagina Monologues showing abstract art of female genitalia.

The artist, an activist who draws women's bodies, is known for her advocacy of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) issues.

Her trial, which has been repeatedly drawn out, is ostensibly being held behind closed doors because prosecutors need to show evidence in the form of artistic vagina images and drawings of women's bodies.

Russian LGBT Activist Faces Prison Time Over Social-Media Pages
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In a Facebook post declaring the hunger strike, Tsvetkova wrote that the state's "cowardly" handling of her case and ruining of her life amounted to "torture."

She said the hunger strike would continue until the state could "be a man" and allow her to defend herself in a public trial.

According to Amnesty International, the case against Tsvetkova amounts to political repression and "Kafkaesque absurdity."

"A woman has been criminally charged with 'producing pornography' simply for drawing and publishing images of the female body and freely expressing her views through art," Natalia Zviagina, Amnesty International’s Moscow office director, said ahead of her trial last month.

"During this ordeal, Yulia has spent time under house arrest and twice been subjected to extortionate fines under the so-called 'gay propaganda' law."

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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