Russian woman faces jail for drawing vaginas in breach of Putin’s strict laws

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A pro-LGBT Russian artist and children's theatre director is facing jail time for drawing pictures of vaginas.

Yulia Tsvetkova, 27, has also been accused of being a foreign agent and could be banged up for three-and-a-half years for violating Vladimir Putin's strict porn laws.

The artist from Komsomolsk-on-Amur in Russia's Far East posted drawings of vaginas to V Kontakte, a Russian social network.

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She has been on trial in a closed courtroom with a final hearing expected to take place on July 12, according to Amnesty International.

Her case has been rumbling on for a number of years, during which she has lost her job and been forced to close her MERAK youth theatre studio following threats to her child students.

She told the BBC: "Speaking of facts, my life has been completely destroyed. This is not a metaphor, this is reality."

Russian site OVD reports Tsvetkova was turned by anti-LGBT activist Timur Bulatov, who claimed the drawings posted to her Vagina Monologues page (a space for body-positive art) violated article 242 of Russia's criminal code.

In November 2019, she was arbitrarily detained and put under house arrest, accused of "production and dissemination of pornographic materials".

She has since faced five different trials, with prosecutors recently accusing her of working with Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros after she accepted grants for her work from Soros-related groups.

As such, prosecutors requested she be officially labelled as a foreign agent. Earlier this month they asked for a three-and-a-half year sentence for the artist.

Tsvetkova said: "I never hid grants, I'm proud of it that a small regional initiative can get support from an international fund — it's cool. It’s not shameful, it’s not criminal, it’s a legal activity.

"I don’t want to shout that the sky is falling on my head, but the prospects are bleak."

According to Human Rights Watch: "The charges against Tsvetkova have no legal basis. It took law enforcement four attempts to get the prosecutor to approve the indictment against her.

"The case against Tsvetkova is a blatant violation of freedom of expression protected under international law.

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"If convicted, she will no longer be able to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights to contest the injustice, as Russia spirals into isolation amid its war on Ukraine."

In an ultimately futile protest, Tsvetkova went on a hunger strike in an attempt to have the court proceedings opened to the public.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) recently ruled that Russia uses foreign agent laws to illegally repress free association.

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