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Russian Lawmaker, LGBT Activist Named Among World’s Most Influential Women

Russian LGBT and women's rights activist Yulia Tsvetkova, Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya and Russian State Duma deputy Oksana Pushkina. Vkontakte, Clemens Bilan / EPA, TASS

Feminist Russian lawmaker Oksana Pushkina and prosecuted LGBT activist Yulia Tsvetkova have been named among the world’s 100 most inspirational and influential women in 2020 by the BBC.

This year's edition of the BBC's annual 100 Women list aims to highlight women who act as leaders of change. The BBC left one of the 100 spots blank as a tribute to the women who have made sacrifices to help others during the coronavirus pandemic.

Pushkina, 57, appeared on the list for being the only Russian lawmaker to publicly support several dozen female journalists who had accused a fellow MP of sexual harassment in 2018. She is listed alongside 28 activists, athletes and politicians from around the world under the “Leadership” category.

“The world has changed a lot in 2020, but besides the trauma and crisis, one thing I’ve learnt is that new challenges always bring out the best in people,” Pushkina told the BBC.

Tsvetkova, 27, was recognized for raising issues related to women’s and LGBT rights, as well as for sharing body-positive drawings of the female anatomy for which she now faces up to six years in prison. Tsvetkova is among 21 artists including actor Jane Fonda listed under the BBC’s “Creativity” category.

“Never tolerate abuse, whether it comes from the government, a partner or society. You are strong and have the power to change the world. No matter how dark times are, keep dreaming and fighting,” Tsvetkova told the BBC.

Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya also earned a spot on the list for leading the ex-Soviet nation’s democratic movement that has posed the greatest challenge yet to its longtime leader’s rule. She continues to call for President Alexander Lukashenko to step down from power and release political prisoners following the Aug. 9 election she claims to have won.

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