Masked men and murder: vigilantes terrorise LGBT+ Russians

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09/24/2019

Receiving photos of mutilated bodies with the warning “you’re next” rattled gay rights activist Nikita Tomilov but when he saw surveillance men outside his home, he fled Russia for good. The threats via social media came from Pila – Russian for “saw” – a homophobic group which has said it was behind the fatal stabbing in July of an LGBT+ activist whose name was among a dozen on their widely-circulated assassination “blacklist”. “I went to the police when I saw two masked men lurking outside my apartment, but they said they couldn’t do anything without proof that these men were there,” Tomilov, 22, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation via Skype from a European country. “What kind of proof could I bring them? And my family members started receiving threats as well. I realised it was too dangerous for me to stay in Russia.” Elena Grigoryeva, 41, was stabbed eight times in the face and back in St Petersburg. The Investigative Committee, which handles major crimes, said she was murdered by a local resident she had been drinking with and detained two suspects.

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