Metro Weekly

Russian Woman Jailed for Wearing Rainbow Earrings

Defendant is the second charged for what Russia is routinely considering "extremist" LGBTQ rainbow symbols since its Supreme Court decision.

Photo: GGAADD via Flickr

A Russian court sentenced a woman to five days in prison for wearing a pair of rainbow-colored earrings, according to the human rights group Egida.

The ruling marks the second such time a person has been prosecuted following a recent Russian Supreme Court case declaring the so-called “LGBT movement” an extremist organization, which resulted in the banning of official LGBTQ organizations and raids of LGBTQ-centric establishments.

As reported by Egida on its Telegram channel, law enforcement agents tasked with combating “extremism” detained the woman after a group of “aggressive people” approached her and her friend at a local café and began filming them.

Video footage gleefully shared by right-wing bloggers on Telegram showed an unidentified man threatening to turn the women into police for wearing a Ukrainian flag pin and rainbow earrings.

The woman, who was identified as Anastasia Yershova in court documents, was detained and questioned by police and brought before a judge, who cited the Russian Supreme Court’s November 2023 ruling — and her presumed ties to “extremist” movements — as justification for her arrest.

“Also, during the process, the earrings themselves were examined, and it was found that they have the shape of a frog with an image of a 7-color rainbow,” Egida reported, quoting an unnamed defense attorney.

According to court records, Judge Elena Nikolaevna Umilina, of the Sormovsky District Court, ultimately found Yershova guilty of publicly displaying symbols of an “extremist” organization — a misdemeanor, for which she was jailed for five days.

“We were confident we would win the court case,” Yershova’s defense lawyer said, according to Egida. “But it turned out to be an unexpected decision.”

The jail sentence for Yershova was handed down one day after 33-year-old Inna Mosina, a photographer in the city of Saratov, went to trial after being accused of displaying a rainbow Pride flag symbol on her Instagram account, as reported by the independent news website Mediazona

Mosina argued that the rainbow flags she shared on her now-deleted Instagram page are “creative solutions” and do not represent LGBTQ symbols.

Charging documents claim that on December 13, 2023 — a month before the November Supreme Court decision was set to take effect — an operative of “Center E,” a unit within Russia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs also known as the “Center for Combating Extremism,” found photographs with rainbow flags on Mosina’s Instagram page and began investigating her.

While authorities have accused her of violating the law, Mosina’s lawyers have argued that neither the Ministry of Justice nor the government newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta had published specific information about the “LGBT movement” being labeled “extremist” or clarified what constitutes an LGBTQ symbol.

Additionally, the ruling had yet to take effect when police first opened an investigation into Mosina.

Lastly, they argue neither the charging documents nor the screenshots of the posts do not indicate the place or time when the offending images were first posted. Mosina has said the earliest post referenced in the charging documents was made three years ago, well before the Supreme Court decision.

If found guilty of displaying LGBTQ symbols, Mosina could be sentenced to 15 days in prison and a fine of up to 2,000 rubles, or about $22, for a first offense, according to the human rights group Pervyi Otdel, which is representing her in court.

The court was scheduled to hear testimony from the police officer who first investigated Mosina for the “display of extremist symbols” and took shots of the offending posts.

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