Days After Acquittal Confirmed In Nudes Case, LGBT Artist Flees Russia

An LGBT activist and artist acquitted recently in a high-profile pornography case over nude drawings and other artwork she posted online has left Russia days after an unsuccessful appeal by prosecutors, her mother mother said on November 25.

Yulia Tsvetkova, 29, was found not guilty in mid-July before prosecutors under pressure from anti-LGBT activists appealed the ruling.

That appeal was rejected by an appeals court in the Siberian city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur on November 22, according to Tsvetkova's mother, who lives in France.

"Why they left, I think it's obvious," her mother, Anna Khodyreva, said. "Yulia is [regarded as] a 'foreign agent,' with a new law [criminalizing "LGBT propaganda"] -- it's easier to die than to live in Russia."

She said that two new criminal cases have been opened against her daughter, so "it's impossible [for her] to stay in Russia."

Tsvetkova draws women's bodies and is widely known for her advocacy of LGBT issues.

Tsvetkova's administration of a social-media page dubbed "The Vagina Monologues" and with drawings and other images that resembled female genitalia had attracted the ire of authorities.

She was charged with producing and distributing pornographic material and prosecutors said at the time that they sought a 38-month prison sentence in the case.

Tsvetkova's trial began in April 2021 after a nearly 1 1/2-year investigation during which she was fined for spreading LGBT "propaganda" and put under house arrest.

The trial was held behind closed doors because prosecutors said they needed to show the images as evidence.

In June, the Justice Ministry added Tsvetkova to its list of "foreign agents."

Amnesty International has said the case against Tsvetkova amounts to political repression and "Kafkaesque absurdity."

An exhibition of Tsvetkova's paintings opened this week at the Le Pangolin space in Marseille, France, and included a roundtable on the history of art and censorship of the female body.