Cambridge student fined for giving feminism talk in Russia during sinister crackdown on visa violations

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Miss Phillips was warned by a journalist before her talk began that someone might try to spring a “surprise” on her at the end. 

The Modern and Medieval languages student thinks someone had incorrectly told the authorities she was giving a talk in breach of her tourist visa in order to stop her sharing ideas about feminism.

She told The Telegraph: “The most likely explanation for what happened is a self-righteous citizen of misogynistic persuasion saw the event advertised online and decided to shut it down by tipping off the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

“One of the officers informed me that they wouldn’t have bothered to intervene if the chosen topic of my conversation was the weather.”

After being detained, officers asked to see her passport and visa. She was questioned about what sights she was seeing in Russia, and if she was married or had children.

Miss Phillips was with officers from the Migration Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs for four hours before being charged under Article 18.8.2 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation.

The charge states that there is a “discrepancy between stated purpose of entering the Russian Federation and the type of occupation actually carried out”. 

She said: “I was told that there could be two possible chains of events – either I sign a statement admitting to my guilt, the head of the Migration Department approves it, then I pay a 2,000 rouble fine.

“Or, if I refuse to cooperate, the case gets sent to court and I could end up with a five-year ban on entering the country. I agreed to the first option.”

Miss Phillips, who is leaving Russia in August and returning to Cambridge for her final year in October, paid the fine the next day.

But her ordeal was not over, as she has since received torrents of abuse on Russian social network VKontakte for daring to talk about feminism.

The insulting comments included: ‘Take your feminism back to Gayurope, you witch’; ‘Go home you swine. If I ever get my hands on you…’’; ‘You can take your Gayuropean values and f*** right off! Go and live with your tolerance’; ‘They should have deported her straight away’;  ‘It’s obvious she’s a lesbian’;  ‘She needs to be sent back to Scotland and banned from reentering Russia… f*** right off you spy’.

Miss Phillips added: “I’m incredibly disappointed that a highly interesting exchange of thoughts and ideas was not able to take place.

“I am speechless with anger that the Russian state chooses to squander valuable time and energy chasing after a Scottish feminist, as the Russian internet has now dubbed me, instead of tackling the endemic violence which grips the country.”

The student has been working with the St. Petersburg-based feminist organisation Eve’s Ribs since November 2018.

Daria Apakhonchich, an Eve’s Ribs representative, said: “What happened to Harriet in Krasnoyarsk is one of many incidents which reveal the inner workings of our state. 

“Instead of recriminalising domestic violence, closing the gender pay gap, cracking down on discrimination in employment and higher education, helping victims of domestic, sexual and reproductive violence, fighting arranged child marriages and female genital mutilation, our state spends taxpayers money fighting feminist activists.”



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