Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) said it has detained a trans activist on suspicion of financing the Ukrainian military, state news agencies reported Thursday.
The FSB did not identify the person by name but described him as “an LGBT movement activist who previously changed his gender identity from a woman to a man,” according to TASS.
He is believed to be the first member of Russia’s LGBT community to face treason charges on claims that he had made a wire transfer to a Ukrainian bank “to provide financial assistance to the Ukrainian Armed Forces.”
The person is a resident of the Oryol region south of Moscow and a volunteer for the independent police-monitoring and human rights project OVD-Info, TASS quoted the FSB as saying.
The Moscow Times contacted OVD-Info’s press service, which said it was unable to confirm whether the arrested person was among its thousands of volunteers.
Video accompanying the arrest announcement showed masked FSB agents apprehending the person as he exited a building and placing him into an unmarked minivan.
He was charged with treason, which is punishable by 12 to 20 years of imprisonment. President Vladimir Putin this spring increased the maximum punishment for treason to life in prison.
Experts have told The Moscow Times that a growing number of publicized treason arrests in recent months appears aimed at deterring ordinary Russians from supporting Ukraine or voicing opposition to the war.
The number of treason cases opened so far in 2023 has surpassed those in 2022, when Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.