SAINT PETERSBURG, Russia — Using baseball bats and air-pellet guns, a group of masked thugs forced their way into a meeting of LGBT equality rights activists Sunday, attacking those in attendance.
According to a St. Petersburg police official who confirmed the incident, one of the LGBT activists attending was shot in the eye by one of the assailants and sent to hospital. The incident was verified by another activist, Maria Markina, who had also been in attendance.
“One guy was shot in the eye. The bullet is still there. Doctors are not sure that they can save his eye,” she said.
The young man, identified as Dmitry Chizhevsky, wrote in a post on the social network VK.com late Sunday, “I was hospitalized, a bullet was left inside my eye and doctors said they will do the surgery but they said that there’s a good chance that the eye will no longer see.”
Activists told Russian language news portal Rosbalt that the LGBT event was to discuss upcoming protests. One of the other LGBT activists also in attendance, Anna Prutskova, wrote on VK.com that she received light injuries to her back during the incident, and confirmed reports that the attackers were carrying baseball bats in addition to the pellet guns.
Clashes between LGBT activists and anti-LGBT groups has become a frequent occurrence in the city, which was one of the first Russian municipalities to introduce controversial fines for “homosexual propaganda.”
Viacheslav Revin, another Russian LGBTQ activists told LGBTQ Nation Monday he was “shocked at what had happened, though, in principle, such an attack was predictable.”
“As always, the police did not want to do anything to stop the violence or prevent it. I am sure that the authorities either ignore this planned attack on the office of the organization, or make empty statements,” he said.
“Anti-gay hysteria in Russia is gaining momentum and is convenient to the authorities of gay people’s enemies,” added Revin. “Gay people are now scapegoats for problems.”
The Kremlin maintains that the anti-gay law, which has provoked international condemnation, is “designed to protect children, and does not prevent adults from making their own choices.”