A Russian human rights activist is being charged with violating Russia's controversial "anti-LGBT propaganda" law after sharing links on Facebook, Amnesty International said on Tuesday.
Evdokia Romanova is based in Samara, one of Russia's largest cities, where she works as a staff member for LGBT rights organization Samara Regional Public LGBT Movement, also known as "Avers."
According to Amnesty, Romanova was asked to report to her local police station on July 26, where she thought she would be serving as a witness for another case. Instead, she was charged with allegedly violating Russia's 2014 law, which bans "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships to minors."
As evidence, the Russian prosecutors have pointed to links posted on both her Facebook page and her page on VKontakte, a Russian social media site. Among the supposedly incriminating works were a link to the website for the Youth Coalition for Sexual Reproductive Rights, of which she is a member, and stories from The Guardian and BuzzFeed News. Among the BuzzFeed News articles cited is a post from 2015 on a photo exhibit of Russian LGBT youth hosted in Saint Petersburg.
"It was very shocking," Romanova told BuzzFeed News via email about the surprise charges. "I did not expect anything like this to happen to me. I ... immediately rejected giving any witness testimony and called my lawyer."
When asked why she was singled out, Romanova speculated that it was possibly because "international human rights work is not very common in the city where I am coming from due to a high level of homophobia, everything that is unclear to them seems incriminating."
"I am not even sure [the] people who have charged me understood the content of the posts I've shared," she said, noting that they were translated using Google Translate and that the results weren't great.
Romanova will stand trial on Sept. 18. If convicted, she will face a potential fine of up to 100,000 rubles ($1,750).