State Dept. calls for investigation into murder of LGBT activist in Russia

Yelena Gregoryeva, a prominent Russian LGBT rights activist, was murdered in St. Petersburg on July 21. (Photo via Facebook)

Following the murder of a prominent LGBT activist in Russia, the State Department is calling for local authorities in St. Petersburg to launch a thorough investigation into her death, including her reported inclusion in an online anti-LGBT “hit list.”

A State Department spokesperson made the comments via email in response to a Washington Blade inquiry into the murder of Yelena Gregoryeva, who campaigned with the Alliance of Heterosexual and LGBT for Equality

“We are saddened by the tragic murder of activist Yelena Grigoryeva in St. Petersburg,” the spokesperson said. “We extend condolences to her family, friends, and colleagues, and admire her advocacy for the advancement of human rights in Russia.”

The spokesperson also said the incident follows a trend of anti-LGBT hostility in Russia.

Under President Vladimir Putin, Russia enacted a law banning LGBT “propaganda” directed at youth. Since that time, human rights groups have noted an increase in harassment and violence against LGBT people after the law passed.

“We will continue to follow this disturbing case closely, particularly given ongoing concerns about widespread impunity in Russia for violence against members of civil society and LGBTI persons,” the spokesperson said.

According to the Russian LGBT Network, Gregoryeva had been targeted recently on a website that drew inspiration from the horror movie franchise “Saw” and targeted LGBT people. The site, which first appeared in 2018 and called for people to hunt those listed on it, was taken down by Russian authorities last week. 

The State Department spokesperson called for a full investigation into both Gregoryeva’s death as well as the reported anti-LGBT website.

“We call on authorities to investigate this fully, including her reported inclusion on an anti-LGBTI ‘hit list’ published online, and to hold perpetrators fully to account,” the spokesperson said. “We are aware of reports that police have detained a suspect in this incident.”

Amid the perception the Trump administration is too friendly with Putin, whom U.S. intelligence agencies say interfered in the 2016 election on Trump’s behalf, the State Department spokesperson also called on Russia to maintain its obligation to human rights.

“We continue to urge the Russian government to uphold its obligation to ensure human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, in accordance with its international obligations and Russia’s laws and constitution,” the spokesperson said.

The Washington Blade has placed a request with the Russian embassy in the United States seeking comment on the State Department response.

Published at Wed, 24 Jul 2019 22:08:20 +0000