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Young student and artist stand up against Kremlin, but jail time threatens

“Two years of my life, stolen, for a social media post. Even before I have to serve my actual prison sentence. It’s hell.” With her hunger strike, she wants to draw attention to all political prisoners who await their prison sentence in Russia for years in house arrest. “My requirement is simple: I ask the government to man up. Do you want to judge me? Fine. I am ready for my sentence. I am not demanding a release, but a quick and fair trial, “Tsvetkova writes.

“Yulia, you are a heroine!” Can be read in the comments. And: “This is modern Russia; a young girl has more honor and dignity than the state and its security forces.”

The words of the two young women differ in a Russia where there is less and less room for a different opinion. In view of the parliamentary elections in September this year, repression in Russia is increasing. For example, the organization of opposition leader Navalny has recently been closed. Critical media was also gagged and numerous new laws were passed this week to facilitate prosecution of people sympathetic to the opposition.

Still broad support for Putin

More than three hundred thousand people signed online petitions for both Misiks and Tsvetkova’s release. But it does not seem that these types of individual protests are really triggering anything. Many young people are dissatisfied with Putin and recent developments, according to research center Levada, but the vast majority – about 65 percent – still support their president.

Misik and Tsvetkova do not have much hope that their protest will actually change anything. “Am I afraid of dying? I think so,” writes Tsvetkova. “But I have nothing more to lose. I have already lost my job, friends and life and only have my dignity left.”

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