ST, PETERSBURG, Russia — The investigation into a November 2013 attack at a meeting of LGBT rights activists that left a man with the loss of vision in one eye, has been suspended, and will not be investigated as a hate crime.
A police official assigned to the case acknowledged to LGBTQ Nation on Tuesday that despite the collected evidence, including bullets and fingerprints, investigators were not any closer to arresting the assailants than they were last November.
On Nov. 3, 2013, a group of masked thugs using baseball bats and air-pellet guns forced their way into a meeting of LGBT rights activists yelling anti-gay epithets and firing rounds at the people gathered. One of those activists, Dmitry Chyzhevsky, was struck in the eye and, despite enduring three surgical procedures since the attack, he has lost all vision in that eye.
Last week, Chizhevsky and the others learned that investigation into the attack was officially suspended and that the court dismissed their petition to have the incident classified as a hate crime.
Chizhevsky’s attorney, Maria Kozlovskaya, criticized police handling of the investigation, noting that video from a local surveillance system, which might have tracked the attackers, was not collected by police investigators.
“There is video surveillance camera from a nearby hotel, which can be seen as running away, two young men in masks – the alleged perpetrators” she said.
Viacheslav Revin, a Russian LGBTQ activist, had told LGBTQ Nation last November that the adoption of the local anti-gay law in St. Petersburg has sparked “a street war against the LGBT community in the city.”
“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.
Chizhevsky’s attorney was more blunt in her assessment: “Failure to provide a proper investigation of crime qualification indicates an intention to conceal the fact that homophobic attacks, the number of which in the last year in St. Petersburg has increased significantly.”