Russia arrests man over murder of LGBTQ activist

Russian police say they are not treating the fatal stabbing of activist Elena Grigoryeva as a hate crime.
Image: A supporter of LGBT community attends a rally after a murder of Elena Grigoryeva, activist for LGBT rights, in Saint Petersburg
A supporter of LGBT community attends a rally after a murder of Elena Grigoryeva, activist for LGBT rights, in Saint Petersburg, Russia July 23, 2019.Igor Russak / Reuters
By Reuters

MOSCOW — Russian police said on Thursday they had detained a man over the fatal stabbing of an LGBTQ activist near her home in St Petersburg and were not treating the murder as a hate crime.

Elena Grigoryeva, 41, was stabbed eight times in the face and back on Saturday night by an assailant whom she knew following an argument between them, the Investigative Committee, which handles major crimes, said in a statement.

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It did not name the suspect, identifying him only as a man born in Soviet Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia in 1981. It said he had been drunk during the attack.

"... The murder was committed on domestic grounds during a conflict that arose between two people who had known each other previously," the Investigative Committee said.

Grigoryeva campaigned for gay rights and also took part in anti-war protests and rallies on other issues.

A spokesman for the Council of Europe urged Russia on Wednesday to conduct a full and transparent investigation into the murder, noting on social media what it said were rising hate crimes in Europe and the need to protect LGBTQ communities.

The murder prompted a fellow campaigner to say Grigoryeva had regularly received death threats in the past and reported them to police, but that they had not acted upon those threats.

As NBC News previously reported, prior to Grigoryeva's murder, her name was listed on a website that encourages people to “hunt” LGBTQ activists, inspired by the torture-themed film "Saw." It is unclear, however, whether this played any part in her death.

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Brooke Sopelsa contributed.