In mid-April, it was reported that Yulia Tsvetkova, a Russian feminist artist, was being put on trial because of accusations that she had distributed pornography. Tsvetkova, who faces up to six years in prison, allegedly posted drawings of vaginas on the social media site VKontakte; the artist was also fined twice for disseminating gay “propaganda.” Tsvetkova had already been detained for a year and half leading up to the April hearing that took place, and now, the artist has apparently begun a hunger strike in order to advocate for herself. Tsvetkova is striking to protest against the proceedings of her trial, and to demand that her trial be made public.
“I realized that I can no longer sit quietly and watch the disgrace that is happening in the country and how my life is being derailed,” Tsvetkova wrote in a post on Facebook. “Would you like to judge me? Please, please. But do it openly. I demand to open my process to the public…I demand that I be able to defend myself by all legal means, and allow a public defender into the process.”
The organizations Memorial and Amnesty International have officially placed Tsvetkova on a list of people who’re being politically prosecuted, and the artist’s mother has vehemently denied that her daughter would distribute pornography. In the past, the artist has also been fined for running an online group that was LGBT-themed, and for making a drawing in support of LGBT families. In April, Russian President Vladimir Putin formally banned same sex marriage in Russia, and the country has been vehemently cracking down on LGBT rights for years.
“They also say about hunger strikes that it should be declared only if you are ready to go to the very end,” Tsvetkova continued in her post. “And here’s the big question, am I ready to die? I don’t know. But I strongly know that I am not ready to live the way I am now, in cowardice and meanness.”