Back in July, Evdokia Romanova was summoned by the Russian government and questioned about promoting “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships in front of minors.”
The human rights activist – who works at the Samara Regional Public LGBT Movement and a member of the Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights – was notified that she was under police investigation after posting a number of pro-LGBT articles on Facebook.
The content was in relation to LGBT+ people in Russia, and included pieces from The Guardian and BuzzFeed.
Evdokia was invited to submit a witness testimony, but she rejected the charges and refused to submit her testimony as a Defendant.
“This accusation was a total shock,” she told Collective Evolution. “I declined giving the government authorities a testimony, aware that due to the nature of my human rights work, it would not be wise for me to talk to them without a lawyer.”
However, when Evdokia refused to comply with their request, they threatened to look into the visa status of her Austrian partner.
“They mentioned that perhaps they would check his documents and see if there were any problems with his visa,” she explained.
“I was in complete shock because this person is my partner, and I have no idea how the authorities received such personal information regarding my private life.”
Speaking about Russia’s attempts to censor online articles, Evdokia said that she has seen many human rights activists forced to leave the country because of it.
“Online expression is extremely important, especially in a country like Russia, where it is so difficult to organize street protests to express our opposition to the authorities’ actions,” she said.
“I am very sad to see that many human rights activists are forced to leave the country, and most NGO’s get shut down or labeled as ‘international agents’.
“Online platforms remain one of the few means of speaking our mind and voicing our disagreement with the human rights violations.
“If the government’s policies continue this way, civil society will eventually be totally silent.”
If Evdokia is convicted of violating the Propaganda of Nontraditional Sexual relationships in front of minors (Administrative penalty Part 2 Code 6.21) law, she could face a fine of up to 100,000 rubles (approx $1,750/£1,300).