Regional Russian Court sends three to jail for homophobic murder
STAFF REPORTS | PETROPAVLOVSK, Kamchatska, Russia — A Russian court has found three men guilty in the murder of a 39-year-old airport deputy administrator last May which was fueled by the victim’s sexual orientation, because they were "convinced of the non-traditional sexual orientation of their fellow villager," regional prosecutors said in a statement, using a euphemism for being gay.
"Taking into account the role of each, the court sentenced them to 12-and-a-half years, 10-and-a-half years and nine years in a strict-regime prison colony," prosecutors said.
According to court documents and testimony from investigators, the three men- all from the village of Zaporozhye in the Russian Far East- "lured the man in his car to a deserted part of the forest. There, the eldest man stabbed the victim multiple times in the chest, face and neck, and two others kicked him." They placed the 29-year-old victim’s body in his car and set it on on fire.
The trio are now aged 26, 22 and 18, with the youngest still a minor at the time of the crime, prosecutors said.
This murder occurred less than a month after a 23-year-old gay man was tortured and killed in the southern Russian city of Volgograd last spring after revealing he was gay.
It was highly unusual for prosecutors to state publicly that the motive was homophobia. However the men were prosecuted for murder, not for a hate crime, a classification that is rarely used in Russia.
After the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, homosexuality was decriminalized in Russia. However, an independent poll last year by the Russian Levada Center last month found 38 percent of Russians believe LGBT people are “sick” and require treatment; 13 percent said they should face prosecution.
The country's LGBTQ activists say that crimes such as this and attacks on LGBTQ Russians has dramatically increased since the passage into law last June of the country's infamous "anti-gay propaganda law."
Russian President Vladimir Putin however, has publicly maintained that gays and lesbians face no discrimination as a result of the law.