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Russian Authorities Drop Charges Against First Suspect, Detain Second In Killing Of Rights Activist Grigoryeva

Yelena Grigoryeva was a noted LGBT rights campaigner in St. Petersburg. (file photo)

Russian authorities have dropped charges against a suspect detained on suspicion of killing LGBT rights activist Yelena Grigoryeva in St. Petersburg and say they have taken another person into custody in the case.

The Investigative Committee said on August 1 that evidence shows a Kyrgyz-born resident of St. Petersburg, an acquaintance of Grigoryeva, had not killed the activist, though he has helped to identify another suspect, who was arrested on July 31.

"The data collected by investigators show that on July 20-21, the victim... was drinking alcoholic beverages with the former suspect and later continued drinking alcoholic beverages... with another man, who... later beat the victim and stabbed her eight times," a Committee statement said.

The new suspect's name was not disclosed, but the statement said that he was born in 1990 and has a previous conviction for drug trafficking.

The body of Grigoryeva, a noted lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights campaigner in Russia's second-largest city, was found on July 21 near her apartment block.

Kyrgyz-born Davron Mukhamedov was arrested four days later as a suspect in the case. The Committee said he has confessed to an unrelated robbery charge and remains in custody, according to the TASS news agency.

Multiple Threats

Aside from LGBT causes, Grigoryeva opposed Russia's annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea and took part in rallies in support of political prisoners.

Grigoryeva's colleagues and friends say the 41-year-old had received multiple threats online and through other means.

In a July 25 statement on its Twitter feed, the U.S. Embassy in Russia expressed "deep condolences to friends and relatives" of the late activist and called for a thorough investigation of the case.

Members of Russia's LGBT community and advocates for their rights have been the targets of worsening threats in recent years.

President Vladimir Putin has asserted that Russia does not discriminate against gay people, but rights activists strenuously dispute that claim.

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