04. Persecution

My example shows that there are no peaceful actions and self-organized initiatives for the state. I didn’t do any sharp radical actions.

Yulia Tsvetkova

March 2019
The festival of activist art "Saffron Color" should have taken place in Komsomolsk-on-Amur. Among the other events, it was planned to show a Merak play titled “Blue and Pink”. A few days before the festival, the police began to interrogate participants of the performance, some of them were spoken to in the absence of their parents. The local authorities and the FSB suspected the play to contain propaganda of “non-traditional” values. Schoolchildren were asked if Yulia told them anything about LGBT+ during rehearsals. They said that this topic had never been raised. Yulia herself in her comments to the press also said that she did not discuss LGBT+ issues with the theater participants.

In fact, the play was about gender stereotypes, and about the future where children and teenagers would like to have equal rights and opportunities regardless of their gender. The name of the performance was suggested by one of the young actors, and it refers to the colors that are stereotypically considered “female” or “male”.
As a result, the "Saffron Color" festival was canceled due to pressure from local authorities. Participants began to leave the Merak theater.
June 2019
Yulia and Anna shut the theater down.
October 2019
Yulia and two subscribers of the "Vagina Monologues" group were summoned for questioning by the police.
November 2019
Yulia was detained at the Komsomolsk-on-Amur train station when she returned from St. Petersburg, where she took part in the feminist festival "Eve's Ribs". She was taken for interrogation and was told that she was involved in a criminal case under the article on the distribution of pornography, which involves from two to six years in prison. The case was initiated because of the "Vagina Monologues" group.

Video filming was carried out during the search. Soon, the footage filmed in Yulia's apartment was freely available on the Internet, which was a violation of the law. Subsequently, Yulia asked to bring the police officer who conducted the search to criminal responsibility to justice for the abuse of office, but she was refused to initiate a case.

They took a written undertaking not to leave the place and not to disclose the materials of the case from Yulia and confiscated her gadgets and documents. They also handed her a summons for interrogation on November 29.

In the same month, the police drew up an administrative protocol against Tsvetkova because of two VKontakte groups: "Komsomolka. Feminism of intersections" and "The Last Supper - LGBTIQ+ on-Amur 18+", which were administered by Yulia. In both groups, they found "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors", although both had 18+ in the description.
November 23, 2019
Tsvetkova was sent under house arrest for violating her travel prohibition, as she went to Blagoveshchensk.
December 2019
The court fined the artist 50 thousand rubles (approximately 570 euros) for the "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors".
January 2020
The court extended house arrest for another two months, but Yulia was allowed to walk 500 meters from the house once a day from 12:00 to 13:00.

Furthermore, a new case was opened against Tsvetkova under the same article - for several images drawn and published by her, including a drawing with the inscription “Family is where love is. Support LGBT+ families. ” She published it on “VKontakte” back in August 2019. This publication was a reaction to the story of two Russian gays, from whom the state wanted to take away adopted children.
February 2020
Police sent Tsvetkova for forensic psychiatric examination.
March 16, 2020
The court canceled Yulia's house arrest, replacing the preventive measure with a prohibition to leave the country. The prosecutor requested this, noting that for several months of the investigation, Tsvetkova had not been charged.

  • During the three months that Yulia was under house arrest, she began to have health problems: high blood pressure, eye problems and toothache. For a month, her mother tried to get permission for Yulia to systematically visit the dentist for complex treatment, but it was not allowed.
  • In addition, Yulia and her mother regularly receive threats. They are threatened with beatings, rape and murder, among other things. One of the authors of the threats is a homophobic activist from St. Petersburg Timur Bulatov. Tsvetkova went to the police with complaints about Bulatov, but the police did not react to his actions. In March 2020, Tsvetkova herself was warned about "the inadmissibility of abuse of the right to complain" because of her complaints about Bulatov's actions.
July 2020
Yulia was fined 75 thousand rubles (approximately 860 euros) in the second administrative case of "propaganda".

In the same month, it became known that a third case was opened against Tsvetkova on “propaganda of homosexual relations” - for participating in an online action #давыберу (“yes, I would choose”) on social networks, which was a response to a homophobic video timed to coincide with the voting on amendments to the Constitution of the Russian Federation.
August 2020
Yulia's lawyer Anna Plyusnina managed to reduce the fine for drawing in support of LGBT+ families from 75 to 50 thousand rubles.

“We all know that in our system, proving the illegality of the amount of the fine is a victory already! However, even a reduced fine does not suit us. Family is where love is, and talking about it is not a crime. We will file a cassation and go to the ECHR with this case, ”- Yulia wrote on Facebook.
August 20, 2020
Yulia said that the investigation of the criminal case on pornography has been completed and the case is being sent to the prosecutor's office for an indictment.
January 24, 2021
The investigation into the case of Yulia Tsvetkova was (again) completed. For the fourth time, she was charged with "Illegal production and distribution of pornographic materials or objects".
January 25, 2021
The Investigative Committee for the Khabarovsk Region submitted the case to the regional prosecutor's office.
February 4, 2021
Bailiffs blocked Yulia Tsvetkova's bank card and withdrew 53 thousand rubles, that is, Yulia paid the fine that she had already paid for the second time, despite the fact that she has all the documents that confirm the first payment.
February 8, 2021
The Prosecutor's Office of the Khabarovsk Territory approved the indictment in the criminal case against Yulia Tsvetkova.
March 31, 2021
The first, preliminary meeting in the Tsvetkova case took place.

Anna Khodyreva wrote on Facebook: “The court refused to admit the public defender and also closed itself to the public, citing the fact that“ during the consideration of the case, the intimate aspects of the life of the participants could be announced ”and“ materials that the prosecution considered pornographic would be considered”.
April 12, 2021
The hearing of the case of Yulia Tsvetkova began in Komsomolsk-on-Amur. The court made the hearings in the Tsvetkova case closed to the public.
May 1, 2021
Anna Khodyreva closed the “Sparta” children's studio she had founded.
May 1, 2021
Yulia Tsvetkova went on a hunger strike: “I demand that my trial be opened to the public, since the grounds for closing it are far-fetched. I demand to give me the opportunity to defend myself by all legal methods, and to admit the public defender into the process. And I demand not to delay my process. Schedule meetings more often than once a month. As you can see, I am not asking to acquit me, or to cancel my recognition not to leave. I just ask you not to waste any more of my time on a farce called “Russian justice”. I ask the state, represented by the prosecutor's office, judges and the FSB, to be honest with themselves and with me, and already make a decision. Looking openly into the eyes of me and the public. Condemn if such is the order. Or justify, if you yourself do not see sense in the case.
May 6, 2021
Another closed court session took place. The state ignored Yulia's appeal.
May 7, 2021
Yulia interrupted her hunger strike: “My mother, doctors and attorneys asked me to end the hunger strike. And if my hatred of cowardice and meanness is strong, then my love for those who are next to me is still stronger. Lately, my loved ones have already experienced a lot of suffering, and I realized that it is not right to bring additional suffering with my own hands. Exactly how it is impossible to interfere with the work of the defenders. <…> If the strategy has proven to be inoperative, it needs to be changed."
May 24 and 25, 2021
On May 24 and 25, 2 more closed court sessions were held. Anna Khodyreva, Yulia's mother, wrote on Facebook: “The trial has been going on for two days for the first time. The court, for me, is a mysterious place. The witnesses of the Investigative Committee have not appeared for the 4th session, today bailiffs were sent to them, and still no one came, and the court cannot do anything. The court examines the discs as evidence, the court does not have speakers and therefore they watch without sound, and then the computer completely breaks down and the court can do nothing. The police do not provide the documents that the court demanded, and the court cannot do anything. The haters write that the court is in cahoots with them, and that Yulia will be sentenced to 2 years in prison by agreement, which, in fact, denigrates the impartiality of the court, and the court cannot do anything."
June 15 and 16, 2021
Two more closed court sessions were held. Anna Khodyreva, Yulia's mother, wrote on Facebook:

Today at the trial it became clear how they bring in witnesses who do not go to court. The bailiff simply takes their passport from them and they "easily" give evidence. And then everything goes on: the children do not dance professionally, the play "Blue and Pink", this is propaganda in its purest form, public is just in fear and horror, in short, after all this, Julia can only be burned, especially for the performance.
June 25, 2021
Anna Khodyreva wrote:

The Komsomolsk-on-Amur court made a decision, based on the expertise of the Investigative Committee, to block the “Vagina Monologues” public. Yulia learned about the decision by mail, almost by accident. <…> The court did not have the right, until the end of the criminal process, to decide whether it was pornography or not. We have the benefit of the doubt.
July 8, 2021
Anna Khodyreva, Yulia's mother, published the news:

Very quickly, the ECHR took into consideration Yulia's complaint against the 2nd administrative order and suggested that the parties “Yulia Tsvetkova” and “Russia” conclude an amicable agreement. Yulia agrees, the only requirement she puts forward is that Russia must legally reverse the court's decision.
July 13, 14 and 15, 2021
Three more closed court sessions were held.
August 3 and 5, 2021
Two more closed court sessions were held.
August 4, 2021
The court unexpectedly canceled the hearing. Thus, the accusing party was unable to bring in two more experts.
August 7, 2021
Anna Khodyreva wrote:

…15 months of the investigation and 5 months of the trial, not counting the long waits between different instances, they are trying to prove to us that the vagina is scary, embarrassing and immoral, and also, I forgot, cynical. And instead of doing something good and necessary, drawing pictures, writing plays, staging performances, visiting, reading books, chatting with friends, discovering new things for ourselves, watching movies, spending time with children, we all have to prove again and again that the vagina is not a taboo and that makes me very sick.
28, 29, 30 September 2021
Three closed meetings of the defense took place.

Anna Khodyreva says:
"Now the big question is money for the arrivals (of the lawyers), at least 4 more times, or even more. But otherwise, we can exhale. "

Anna Khodyreva talks about the process in more detail in the "Zapravka" program
27 October 2021
The Khabarovsk court recognized that the Komsomolsk-on-Amur court had no right to close the "Vagina Monologues" public

Text: Anna Laletina, Kira Schmyreva

Sources: Interviews with Anna Khodyreva, OVD-Info, Mediazona, Takie Dela

Works by Yulia Tsvetkova

Criminal chronicles of a small town

Free Tsvetkova

Prisoner cards

Hard times