Yelena Grigoryeva, a well-known Russian activist for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGTB) people, was found dead on July 20 in the Russian city of St. Petersburg, as reports from Russia show. She had previously received death threats for her activism, according to her friends. Dinar Idrisov, an opposition fighter who worked with Grigoryeva, said the victim was on a list of targets created by a homophobic group called “Pila”. Police reports said that Grigoryeva was strangled and stabbed. She was 41 years old. “Her mutilated body was discovered yesterday,” Idrisov published on Facebook. “Lately she has been a victim of violence and has often been threatened with murder. Whether these attacks, threats and now murder are connected with her political views that have changed from nationalist to liberal and LGBT, or with her undoubtedly active character and behavioral style – it doesn’t matter. Everyone has the right to life. And the state of Russia must guarantee this right to life.” A suspect is said to have been arrested in connection with her murder. It is still unconfirmed whether the attack took place because of her activism. Homophobia is widespread in Russia, which passed a “homopropaganda law” in 2013 prohibiting the “promotion of non-traditional sexual relations with minors”. The law led to the closure of many websites and organizations providing information to LGTB youth. “As it was discussed and passed in 2013, the law contributed to an intensification of stigmatization, harassment and violence against LGBT persons in Russia,” said a statement by Human Rights Watch. “The law was applied to shut down online information and referral services for children and to prevent self-help groups and mental health professionals from tackling LGBT problems with children. It has further increased antipathy towards LGBT people.” Last week, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the Russian government must pay about $47,000 in damages to three LGTB legal groups for refusing to register them. The law was mentioned in an interview Oscar-winning director Oliver Stone conducted with Russian President Vladimir Putin. “We have a law that forbids propaganda among minors,” Putin told Stone. “It seems that this may be a reasonable law,” Stone replied, transcribing the conversation published by the Kremlin. Moscow authorities have also done little to comply with reports of widespread detention and murder of gays in Chechnya, human rights lawyers say. “The Chechen authorities deny the existence of gays, but also stir up homophobic violence by encouraging people to murder their own family members because of their sexual orientation. This means that anyone suspected of being an LGBTI in Chechnya is extremely vulnerable,” Amnesty International said in a statement. “Together we can demand that Putin step up and investigate these blatant attacks on LGBTI people. His inaction is the green light for further attacks.”


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