Russian military reportedly storms vulva documentary screening held in solidarity with persecuted activist

Josh Milton September 16, 2020
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Yulia Tsvetkova

Red Cross worker and St Petersburg activist Daria Apakhonchich was arrested for taking part in a "vulva ballet" street performance in support of Yulia Tsvetkova. (Darya Apakhonchich/ Facebook)

Russian military reportedly shut down a Moscow screening of the documentary Vulva 3.0 Tuesday night (15 September), organised in support of a queer activist persecuted for her artistic depictions of vaginas.

Around 20 National Guard officers reportedly stormed a screening of the 2014 German documentary, billed as “non-sensationalistic research into the history of the female anatomy”, after an anonymous tip-off about “homosexual propaganda”, The Moscow Times reported.

Officers with the force — an internal military agency which answers directly to Vladimir Putin — reportedly bellowed “this is not OK”.

The screening’s organiser, Andrei Parshikov, told local media that an unnamed chief said he would take a copy of the film to see if it violated the prohibition law, but couldn’t “guarantee anything”.

As a result of the reported raid Parshikov said the screening, held at the Flacon design factory, will be postponed to a later date.

Representatives of the National Guard denied to Dozhd that its forces were deployed to the venue.

Vulva documentary screened in support of activist Yulia Tsvetkova.

The Vulva 3.0 screening was held in solidarity with Yulia Tsvetkova, who faces up to six years in jail for distributing so-called “gay propaganda” on a social media page called Vagina Monologues, which encourages people to share artistic depictions of vaginas in order to “remove the taboo”.

Tsvetkova was fined a thumping ₽75,000 for sharing illustrations of queer couples online in July, and charged twice in the winter of 2019 – once for sharing drawings of vaginas and again for posting on social media about intersectional feminism.

The 27-year-old has come to be viewed among many Russian LGBT+ communities as something of a figurehead, her case a striking example of the ways in which Russian decision-makers and authorities are stifling free speech around queer rights.

A plank of Vladimir Putin’s leadership, the outlawing of the “promotion of nontraditional sexual relations to minors” in 2013 signalled to many the depth of anger felt by the despot and his cronies towards LGBT+ people.

In the years since, Putin has often used anti-LGBT+ hatred as a cornerstone of his boosterism playbook. In March, he proposed a constitutional ban on marriage equality, in part, to rally for people to vote in a referendum to keep him in power beyond 2024.

Recently, universities were instructed by authorities to monitor students’ social media for “gay propaganda”, with those caught facing possible expulsion.

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