Transgender blogger, Milana Petrova, has been charged under Russia’s contentious laws that ban the promotion of “LGBTQ propaganda” and the perceived maligning of the Russian military.

Petrova, who had been chronicling her journey and experiences as a transgender woman in Russia, had also expressed criticisms of the Russian military on her widely-followed Telegram channel.

Reports from the independent news outlet Novaya Gazeta indicate that the monitoring of Petrova’s content was initiated after a tip-off to the Center for Combating Extremism by Ekaterina Mizulina, who heads the Safe Internet League. While claiming to protect the online sphere from harmful content such as drug use and dangerous themes, this organisation has recently taken an active stance against LGBTQ-themed content.


Historically, the Safe Internet League has offered recommendations to the Russian government on the websites to be blocked and the content creators to be prosecuted for spreading what they consider “inappropriate” content online.

After Petrova’s conviction, Mizulina did not hold back in publicising the judgment. She reported that Moscow’s Tverskoy Court mandated Petrova to pay a fine of 200,000 rubles (approximately NZD $3565) for the alleged LGBTQ content and another 50,000 rubles (around NZD $890) for allegedly undermining the army’s image.

There have been disturbing reports about Petrova’s condition since the judgment, including a Telegram channel called “Lightning Moscow” that claimed she was detained in a special centre for a day and exhibited signs of physical abuse. Mizulina, however, dismisses these allegations as attempts by Petrova to gain sympathy and boost her social media following.

Petrova, who had left Russia temporarily in 2021, later revealed her gender transition in 2022 and started the YouTube show titled *Bad Russians*. The show’s inception led to a barrage of threats from anti-LGBTQ+ groups.

While the Russian anti- “propaganda” law initially targeted content accessible to minors, the law was later expanded to cover the broader population in 2013. The intention behind the law is to clamp down on any content that positively or neutrally represents LGBTQ+ identities, causing significant concern among activists and LGBTQ+ organisations.

This legislation has resulted in the closure of LGBTQ-focused museums, fines for activists, deportation of influencers, and even the persecution of same-sex couples. The law has attracted global criticism from figures like former U.S. President Obama, as well as entities like the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and human rights groups such as Amnesty International.