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Suspect Detained In Death Of Russian LGBT Rights Activist

Yelena Grigoryeva was found dead with multiple stab wounds.
Yelena Grigoryeva was found dead with multiple stab wounds.

Russian authorities say they have detained a suspect in the murder of LGBT activist Yelena Grigoryeva, who was slain near her home in St. Petersburg.

The Investigative Committee said on July 25 that an acquaintance of Grigoryeva, a Kyrgyz-born resident of St. Petersburg, had been arrested on suspicion of killing the activist, who was found dead, apparently strangled and with multiple stab wounds, according to local media.

The man, whose name was not released, killed Grigoryeva during an altercation and had no political motive, the committee said.

"As a result of materials collected by investigators about the deceased woman, it has been established that she led an asocial lifestyle, repeatedly drinking alcoholic beverages with various people, including the suspect," the committee said in a statement.

The body of Grigoryeva, a noted LGBT rights campaigner in Russia's second-largest city was found on July 20.

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 to Russia expressed "deep condolences to friends and relatives" of the late activist and called for a thorough investigation of the case.

"Yelena Grigoryeva was a brave defender of the LGBT community's rights, who participated in various civil initiatives. We call on the Russian authorities to hold a thorough and objective investigation," the statement said.

Members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender 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 vocally dispute that.

A protest in St. Petersburg on July 23 to mourn Grigoryeva consisted of so-called “solo” or “solitary” pickets, with individual participants maintaining a set distance from others involved in the demonstration. Under Russian law, such “solitary” demonstrators do not need official permission to gather.

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