Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Russian law enforcement drops hate crime investigation

Courtesy of Dmitry Chyzhevsky
By Brody Levesque | SAINT PETERSBURG, Russia -- It has been four months since a group of masked thugs using baseball bats and air-pellet guns forced their way into a meeting of LGBT equality rights activists yelling anti-gay epithets and firing rounds at the people gathered including 27-year-old Dmitry Chyzhevsky. Unfortunately for Chizhevsky, one of those shots entered his left eye and despite enduring three surgical procedures since the attack, he has lost all vision in that eye.
Last week Chizhevsky and the others learned that investigation into the November 4 shooting attack has been officially suspended and that the court dismissed their petition to have the attack classified as a hate crime.
An police official assigned to the case acknowledged to LGBTQ Nation Tuesday that despite the collected evidence, including bullets and fingerprints, investigators are not any closer to arresting the assailants than they were last November. 
Chizhevsky's attorney, Maria Kozlovskaya, took exception to the police explanation noting that video from a local surveillance system, which might have tracked the attackers, was not collected by police investigators and also pointed out that police investigators were unwilling to put forth more than a token effort to produce results and arrests.
"There is video surveillance camera from a nearby hotel, which can be seen as running away, two young men in masks - the alleged perpetrators" she said.  
Chizhevsky said of the lead investigator;
“Her main goal was to fill out all the forms rather than find the criminals”. He added that she claimed to him that "she did all she could do, but will not be searching for the attackers, unless new evidence comes up. She was completely indifferent to us and to the case,"  he said. 
Viacheslav Revin, a Russian LGBTQ activist had told LGBTQ Nation last November that the adoption of the local anti-gay law in St. Petersburg has sparked “a street war against the LGBT community in the city.”
“As always, the police did not want to do anything to stop the violence or prevent it. I am sure that the authorities either ignore this planned attack on the office of the organization, or make empty statements,” he said. 
“Anti-gay hysteria in Russia is gaining momentum and is convenient to the authorities of gay people’s enemies,” added Revin. “Gay people are now scapegoats for problems.”
Chizhevsky's attorney was more blunt in her assessment.
"Failure to provide a proper investigation of crime qualification indicates an intention to conceal the fact that homophobic attacks, the number of which in the last year in St. Petersburg has increased significantly."