Russia acquits feminist artist on trial for pornography

MOSCOW — A court in Russia’s significantly east on Friday handed a unusual acquittal to a feminist artist who was billed with disseminating pornography after she shared artwork on the net depicting feminine bodies.

The costs versus activist Yulia Tsvetkova, 29, in the considerably jap city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur had elicited intercontinental outrage, with human legal rights groups linking her prosecution to the Kremlin’s aggressive marketing of “traditional family members values.” Russia’s most prominent women’s rights groups have faced crackdown in the latest years.

In a 15-thirty day period trial that went on guiding closed doorways, the prosecution had sought a jail sentence of 3 yrs and two months on the expenses of disseminating pornography. The expenses are reportedly associated to Tsvetkova’s team on the well known Russian social media community VKontakte, where by stylized drawings of vaginas ended up posted. Tsvetkova is not authorized to disclose information of the criminal circumstance against her.

The decide acquitted the artist on Friday.

“We’re glad, but not absolutely,” Tsvetkova’s mother, Anna Khodyreva, wrote on Facebook just after the ruling was declared, incorporating that the prosecution nevertheless has 10 days to charm the verdict.

An acquittal in a felony scenario is a rare occurrence in Russia. In accordance to Russia’s Investigative Committee, less than 1% of defendants in criminal situations were acquitted by courts past 12 months.

Tsvetkova’s trial begun in April last 12 months, eight months immediately after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed constitutional amendments that outlawed identical-intercourse marriage and tasked the federal government with “preserving common loved ones values.”

Tsvetkova ran a children’s theater and was a vocal advocate of feminism and LGBT rights. She started an on-line group called Vagina Monologues that encouraged followers to fight the stigma and taboos surrounding the feminine entire body, and posted other people’s artwork in it.

She was detained in November 2019 and spent the upcoming 4 months underneath dwelling arrest. Her household was raided, together with her mother’s instruction studio for small children. The activist was fined 2 times for violating Russia’s regulation versus disseminating homosexual “propaganda” to minors and has been declared a “foreign agent” — a designation with robust pejorative connotations that implies extra governing administration scrutiny and aims to discredit the receiver.

Tsvetkova has maintained her innocence. Khodyreva, her outspoken mother, informed The Connected Press last calendar year that “Yulia has generally been versus pornography. … Feminists are from pornography mainly because it is exploitation of women’s bodies.”

The situation in opposition to Tsvetkova took a critical toll on her and her household. Khodyreva explained that, on top rated of pressure from the authorities, she and her daughter have received demise threats and ended up continuously harassed by strangers. Khodyreva’s education and learning studio for small children has dropped several clientele. Tsvetkova’s children’s theater, Merak, no extended exists — recurrent visits from legislation enforcement had been also distressing for the young children so it shut down.

In a uncommon job interview very last thirty day period, a distraught Tsvetkova reported that “my existence has been ruined totally.” “It’s not a metaphor, it is really reality,” she instructed British broadcaster the BBC.

Quite a few public figures have spoken out in Tsvetkova’s assist. Activists all across Russia have protested her prosecution, artists focused performances to her and an on the internet petition demanding that the expenses be dropped collected above 250,000 signatures.

Russia’s popular human legal rights group Memorial experienced declared Tsvetkova a political prisoner.

Kenneth Proto

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