A Russian LGBT rights advocate has disappeared in eastern Ukraine.
Human Rights Watch in a Feb. 9 press release said Grey Violet and Victoria Miroshnichenko arrived in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, which pro-Russian separatists control, on Jan. 31.
The organization said Violet, who is transgender, and Miroshnichenko planned to “stage a public performance” in the city of Donetsk “in support of the LGBT community and record it on video.”
Human Rights Watch said Violet’s friends last heard from her at around 11 a.m. on Jan. 31.
The friends told Human Rights Watch they received information that indicates security officials from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic detained Violet and Miroshnichenko shortly after they arrived in the region. MediaZona, an independent Russian news website that two members of Pussy Riot launched, quoted a friend who said local authorities told Violet and Miroshnichenko were not in the custody of police or security officials.
“It is distressing that no one has been able to find out where Grey Violet and Miroshnichenko are since they arrived in the DNR 10 days ago,” said Human Rights Watch Ukraine researcher Tanya Cooper in the Feb. 9 press release. “Their sudden disappearance requires prompt and effective investigation.”
Cooper told the Washington Blade on Monday that Human Rights Watch has “no more news about” Violet and Miroshnichenko and “their well-being.” She said her organization has urged the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights to ask authorities in the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic about the activists’ fate.
“This is a truly horrible situation,” Cooper told the Blade. “They’ve been missing now for two weeks.”
Pro-Russian separatists have governed the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine since 2014.
They have banned the promotion of so-called gay propaganda to minors. LGBT activists in the region with whom the Blade has spoken say the ongoing conflict between Ukrainian troops and the separatists has adversely impacted their work.
- Michael K. Lavers, Washington Blade courtesy of the National LGBTQ Media Association