Authorities in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, Far East Russia, have charged Yulia Tsvetkova (26) with distributing “gay propaganda” to minors. The theatre artists and director of the children and youth theatre “Merak” is a feminist and LGBT activist. She was running a social media page called “Vagina Monologues” (related to the play by US author Eve Ensler), which encourages people to share artistic depictions of vaginas in order to “remove the taboo” around menstruation and the anatomy of the vagina. In March she organized a children and youth theatre festival “Blue and Pink”, focusing on gender stereotypes. The festival was banned by the city authorities and Yulia Tsvetkova was interrogated for four hours.
Russia banned by law “propaganda of homosexuality toward minors” in 2013. Tsvetkova’s trial is set for Dec. 9. If she found guilty she could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison. More than 10,000 people have signed a petition on change.org expressing support for Tsvetkova.
The new government in Flanders announced to radically cut the subsidies for culture. In many domains and especially in the performing arts: Between 3 and 6 percent for the big institutions, and 60 percent of the project subsidies. Artists inside and outside the country oppose this step and fight in solidarity. An online petition counts already more than 60.000 signatures, thousands of protesters went on the street in Brussels and Ghent.
ITI supports the open letter to the Flemish head of government and prime minister, Jan Jambon, published on November 12: “After a decennium of budget- and funding cuts there are significantly less Flemish artists to be found in prestigious European and international festivals, theatres or museums. The proposed funding cuts could deliver them the final blow and render Flanders completely useless within the international field.”
Avraham Oz, Professor Emeritus from the University of Haifa and resident director of the Alfa Theatre Tel Aviv (Israel), has received a letter which accuses the theatre as supporter of terrorists. The letter threatens the group with “immense fines”, “loss of official state recognition” and warned “that you may be charged by a criminal charge insofar as inciting speeches will occur”.
The theatre has scheduled an event under the title “Children in Chains: Detention of Minors on the West Bank and East Jerusalem”, organized by the “Betselem” organization and the “Parents Against Child Detention” for November 20th, the international Children Rights Day. The sender is an organization which sends frequently complaints to the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Finance. Those complaints were and are used to justify measures against cultural institutions in Israel (see post on Cultural Loyalty Bill). The letter also counts several cases of former repression against theatres.
The Alfa Theatre is a fringe theatre with professional Jewish and Arab actors, working in both languages. Despite the attempts at intimidation, the theatre stands by its programme.
At their meeting 19-21 October 2019 in Maribor/Slovenia the representatives of European ITI Centers have signed a resolution, initiated by the Swiss ITI centre, to stop the Turkish attacks against Kurdish people in Syria. The resolution calls for immediate action with tangible consequences like the immediate establishment of a no-fly zone over Northern Syria for Turkish war planes, the stop of arms deliveries to Turkey and the suspension of economic and military cooperation with Turkey, and demands a peaceful solution to the war in Syria with the participation of Kurdish people.
An outburst of anti-government protests began September 20 in Egypt. The government has instated a harsh anti-protest law, is leveling falsified charges to quash media outlets that confront the established national narrative, introducing a law that fines journalists for reporting “false news,” and prosecuting individuals who express different religious or political viewpoints with punishments of fines, harsh prison sentences, or even death sentences. Over 2,000 people have been imprisoned, many without any apparent connection to the protests, without charge and without legal counsel. Witnesses are reporting that all places of the Arab spring revolution in Cairo have been blocked and the police are stopping people in the street and asking for their mobile phones and then looking at what they share on facebook and their messages.
Among the reportedly detained people is the playwright Ezz Darwiesh from Alexandria. Darwiesh has been awarded at the Cairo International Festival for Experimental Theater 2007 and was invited to several festivals in the Arab World and Europe.
A Moscow court has released theater director Kirill Serebrennikov on bail after a year and a half spent under house arrest on criminal fraud charges, Russian news agencies reported this week. Bail terms restricted travel for Serebrennikov, former Seventh Studio general director Yury Itin and former Culture Ministry official Sofia Apfelbaum. A fourth defendant in the case, former Gogol Center director Alexei Malobrodsky, has been under similar travel restrictions since April 2018. The courts’s resent decision has overturned all the defendants’ travel restrictions.
Serebrennikov was detained in August 2017 on charges of embezzling 68 million rubles ($1 million) in government funds as part of a theater project, damages that later doubled to 133 million rubles. Supporters of the Gogol Center’s artistic director say the charges against him are politically motivated.