A prominent Russian LGBTI activist was found dead in St. Petersburg on Sunday, according to activists and local media. The woman, Yelena Gregoryeva, 41, was an outspoken and prominent activist in the city.
Police have detained a 40-year-old man in connection to the killing.
Gregoryeva campaigned with the Alliance of Heterosexual and LGBT for Equality. Svetlana Zakharova, a spokesperson for the Russian LGBT Network, told the Washington Blade she also worked with other civil society groups.
Zakharova said not enough details about what exactly happened have been released yet. However, she said that Gregoryeva had been targeted recently on a website that drew inspiration from the horror movie franchise “Saw” and targeted LGBT people.
“What we know is that her name was on the so-called ‘Saw’ website,” Zakharova said. The website, “collected and published personal information on LGBT activists like names, photos and addresses.”
The site, which called for people to hunt those listed on it, was taken down by Russian authorities last week. It had appeared in 2018. The fact it took so much time for the police to respond to the website, Zakaharova said, shows anti-LGBTI attitudes among the authorities.
Another activist, Dinar Idrisov, wrote on Facebook that Gregoryeva had been threatened leading up to her murder.
Idrisov wrote that Gregoryeva had even asked a friend to take care of her cat in case of her death.
St. Petersburg was named the most LGBTI-friendly city in Russia by a marketing agency back in January. However, last year tens of LGBTI rights activists were detained by authorities after participating in an unauthorized LGBTI event.
Zakaharova said the city’s LGBTI population had been shocked over Gregoryeva’s death.
Russia has been in the spotlight of international LGBTI rights discussions since 2013 when the Russian legislature passed a law to ban so-called LGBTI “propaganda” that targets minors. Rights groups have noted an increase in harassment and violence at LGBTI people after the law passed.
The European Court of Human Rights last week ruled that Russia had to pay 42,500 euros in damages to three LGBTI rights organizations after refusing to register them over the course of a few years.
This article originally appeared in the Washington Blade and is made available in partnership with the National LGBT Media Association.