Prominent LGBT and Crimea Tatar Activist Murdered in Russia
Yelena Grigroryeva was found stabbed multiple times and strangled not far from her St. Petersburg home
Photo Human Rights in Ukraine
41-year-old Yelena Grigroryeva, a civic activist who fiercely opposed Russia’s occupation of Crimea and who often took part in protests against the mounting persecution of Crimean Tatars has been brutally murdered in St. Petersburg. Grigoryeva was also active in defending LGBT rights and had received multiple death threats related to her LGBT advocacy.
Grigoryeva was reportedly stabbed multiple times and also strangled, with her body left under a tree near her apartment block.
Her body was found in the evening of July 21, 2019 but initial investigations put her time of death from 12 to 16 hours earlier. However, the Investigative Committee’s reports have varied wildly in their contents. They also differ from reports from other LGBT activists, including Dinar Idrisov who first reported her murder on Facebook on July 22, 2019.
Her murder only reached international media on July 23, 2019.
Idrisov called Grigoryeva a civic activist of the democratic, anti-war and LGBT movement, and said that she had recently been the victim of violence and had often received death threats. He wrote that she and her lawyer had turned to the police over both the violence and the threats, but had not received any decent response.
“All of it was along the lines of ‘if you’re being killed, call us’,” Idrisov writes, adding that Grigoryeva didn’t have time “to call.”
Idrisov says also that, after the death threats began, Grigoryeva had asked a common acquaintance to look after her cat if she died, and had planned to get her a spare key made.
It was asserted within hours that the culprit had been found, a 40-year-old man from Bashkortostan who had had difficulty with paying back loans. Even the name of the sniffer dog, who was supposed to have tracked down this man, was named.
Suspicion arose, and still lingers, that the Investigative Committee was very eager to conclude that the crime had been solved and that it had had nothing to do with Grigoryeva’s active civic position and/or her sexual orientation.
By Monday evening, the Investigative Committee was still suggesting that its priority version was that this was some kind of domestic crime, but did acknowledge the possibility that the activist had been killed by several people, reports the Russian news outlet Fontanka.
Based on the Fontanka article and by numerous comments on social media, Grigoryeva’s friends and other activists believe the motive is more likely to lie in her activism and/or her part in the LGBT movement. She was reportedly on the hit list of a so-called project entitled ‘Saw against LGBT.’
In his post about Grigoryeva’s death, Idrisov reported that another civic activist, Konstantin Sinitsyn, had been killed under questionable circumstances on January 26, 2018. He suggests that the neighbor who was convicted of his murder is probably innocent.
Russia has laws against what it calls ‘LGBT propaganda’ and attacks on the LGBT community come from all corners, especially the government and the Russian Orthodox Church.