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Russia: Gay man tortured and killed after revealing sexuality

BY NATASHA BARSOTTI — A gay man whose naked and beaten body was found in the courtyard of an apartment building in the southern Russian city of Volgograd has been identified as Vladislav Tornovoi in a number of media reports.

An Agence France-Presse (AFP) report quotes a spokesperson for investigators as saying that the murdered man was "raped with beer bottles and had his skull smashed with a stone." In what is being described as a "rare occurrence," the attack has been labelled a hate crime. A Moscow Times report also quotes gay rights activist Nikolai Alexeyev as saying that homophobic attacks are common in Russia but are not deemed hate crimes under domestic law. The report notes that hate crimes, motivated by racial, religious or ethnic bias, "carry especially harsh punishments." 

Two men, aged 22 and 27, have been detained in connection with the attack. 

AFP says regional investigator Andrei Gapchenko told a Moscow radio station that two men beat the 23-year-old man after he told them he was gay.

The attack follows passage of legislation banning so-called propaganda of homosexuality among minors in about 10 cities and regions across Russia and as a federal anti-gay gag bill, which has already passed first reading in the State Duma, is due to undergo a second reading. The passage of such legislation has been condemned internationally.

"Political figures have provoked anti-gay sentiment by portraying the gay community as a bunch of freaks," Alexeyev told Moscow Times. "They are accomplices in the killing," he alleges.

In an April 8 press conference in Amsterdam, Russian President Vladimir Putin said there is "no infringement on the rights of sexual minorities" in the Russian Federation, adding that "these people, like everyone else, enjoy all the same rights and freedoms as everyone else."

Organizers of Moscow Pride are considering dedicating the event to Tornovoi, International Business Times says.

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