In a social environment less kind to those who are different, these Instagram activists are working to take feminism and inclusivity off the ground in Russia. With their smart expertise, candid personal revelations, and inspiring visualisation, these nine Instagrammers will take you on an online journey to revolutionary, gender-friendly territories that have remained underexplored for too long.
Mark Klinkov’s poetic Instagram gives followers a daily dose of visual inspiration, but this is only secondary to the pro-feminism and trans activism that appear on the feed as well. As a trans person going through hormone therapy, Mark talks about the challenges of his transition, touching on the ethics of the entire process as well as educating followers about the norms and rules of addressing trans people at large.
A usual suspect at queer fests and feminist events, the author of the Feminist Calendar and the curator of the Women’s Historical Night exhibitions in St Petersburg, Polina is an intersectional feminist and advocate for veganism. Her prolific activity on Instagram is mainly focused on ecology and mental health with a special take on domestic sexual violence Polina herself was a victim of. Tune in for thoughtful, nuanced writing, and occasional appearances of little rabbits Polina shelters at her place.
Polina Nikitina’s playful and colourful Instagram feed could easily be a sort of an imaginative Neverland for the Russian feminist community, where all inspiring activists are represented with a cartoon character created by Polina. Her nuanced portraits depict Russia’s brightest female biologists, literary critics, musicians, ecologists, and artists at the forefront of the feminist movement.
This artist’s account adds an essential dose of near-kaleidoscopic brightness to the whole spectrum of body positivity visualisation online. Sketching female rituals and scenes of warming companionship, this Instagram account is a carefree, loving ode to diversity and agency — the kind of feed that’ll keep you going when you’re feeling low.
Ekaterina Karelova’s candid Instagram feed has quickly become one of the main platforms advocating for body positivity in Russia. In her posts, the St Petersburg-based Ekaterina Karelova is constantly breaking stereotypes around the body positivity movement, providing a safer space for thousands of Russian girls who suffer from the stigmatisation of their body. Ekaterina also speaks out fearlessly on polyamory, mental health, and relationships in a broader context.
Muscovite Nika Vodvud has become nearly synonymous with contemporary Russian feminism, being the first to react about pretty much every feminism-related story in the Russian media. Her lucid and exacting style of writing helps a larger audience to approach complicated and sensitive subjects, such as intersectional feminism and LGBTQ+ rights, which she does with an appealing clarity. Nika’s Instagram stories are a winning combo of carefree illustrations which she creates online, practical information on charity events and legislation changes, as well as her personal revelations on the difficult social environment in which she lives.
A pioneer of Russian anti-sexist independent journalism, fearless human rights advocate and sociologist Bella Rapoport is one of the biggest names in Russia’s feminist movement. Having worked in major Russian media, Bella has helped get feminism off the ground, introducing it to the public with in-depth comments and reviews on gender-related aspects of pop-culture and social life. Browsing her Instagram, though, still feels like reading a personal diary that so many people can relate to.
A straightedge gangsta activist Anya Sakharova will help you explore the punk side of veganism and feminism. The tattooed, blue-haired Anya can be spotted wearing a stained hygiene pad as a Halloween outfit as naturally as presenting her new vegan recipe or speaking out at an HIV charity event. A contributor to Russia’s major charity media outfit Takie Dela, Anya is the kind of badass Instagrammer who breaks the monotony of carefully arranged Instagram imagery with a raw aesthetic.
Dying to peep into the Russian safe space disco scene, or surprised there actually is one? Look no further than @grrrparty, an Instagram account taking you behind the scenes of Russia’s first safe space, anti-discrimination charity parties run by a group of feminist activist and DJs from Moscow and St Petersburg. The first parties took place in Moscow’s Powerhouse and Pluton club, helping to raise around £2,000 for Russian charities.