Murder, ‘gay-hunters’ strike terror in Russia’s LGBT community

Image: iStock

Image: iStock

Even though the country decriminalised homosexuality in 1993, it remains a deeply homophobic society.

When LGBT activist Yelena Grigoryeva found her name on a hit list of a “gay-hunting” group, she did not appear to take the threat seriously. The group called itself “Pila”, meaning “saw”, after the series of Hollywood horror films of the same name, in which a serial killer plays games with his victims. Pila promised “very dangerous and cruel little gifts” to a number of Russia’s gay activists. “That’s just a threat,” Grigoryeva wrote on Facebook early last month, posting a screengrab of the group’s website on her page. “This is not how crimes are committed.” On July 21, her body was found in bushes close to her home in Saint Petersburg, with at least eight stab wounds to her face and back. She was 41. The murder has horrified Russia’s LGBT community, even though there seems to be no firm evidence linking Pila directly to Grigoryeva’s fatal stabbing. “I do not know who these people are, but it’s significant that people who think this way live among us,” said activist Mikhail Tumasov, who has also received threats from Pila. “Many people would like to do in reality what Pila is threatening us with. The idea has emerged that killing...




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