AWARDS
Arts 2021

Tatyana Zelenskaya is the 2021 Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Awards Arts Fellow

16 Sep 2021
BY INDEX ON CENSORSHIP

Tatyana Zelenskaya is an illustrator from Kyrgyzstan, working on freedom of expression and women’s rights projects.

Zelenskaya’s illustrations have been featured by Amnesty International, as well as smaller organisations. Numerous Kyrgyzstani news outlets have published Zelenskaya’s work, such as Kloop or Current Time. On 8 March 2020, she was arrested while participating in a peaceful march on International Women’s Day. 

Zelenskaya has found inspiration for her work in the waves of anti-government protests that have recently erupted across Russia and Kyrgyzstan. As a graduate from Bishkek’s Academy of Art, Zelenskaya draws on her experience growing up in Kyrgyzstan to highlight and critique key social issues. She originally created artwork to draw attention to the issue of domestic violence, but she has expanded her focus to other societal issues plaguing the country. She has been subject to threats online as a result of her work.

In 2020, she created the artwork for a narrative video game called Swallows: Spring in Bishkek, which features a woman (aspiring to be an outspoken blogger), who helps her friend that was abducted and forced into an unwanted marriage. The game was first released in June 2020 and was downloaded more than 30,000 times in its first two weeks. Its purpose is to break the silence around the issue of bride-kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan, with the aim of preventing them altogether.

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