Masked Men Attack LGBT Organization in St. Petersburg, Russia, Injuring Two People

One man was blinded and a young woman was injured with a baseball bat in an attack on an LGBT community center in St. Petersburg, Russia over the weekend.

A press release from LaSky St. Petersburg (via the Russian LGBT Network):

At about 19.20 on Sunday, November 3, 2013 the "Rainbow Coffee" traditionally held at the community center of the project LaSky-St.Petersburg was attacked by two assailiants. They entered community center pretending to be "looking for a friend". Then one of them pulled a pneumatic gun and opened fire while the other was brandishing a baseball bat. Two persons were injured in the attack. A young man, who was shot in the face and has got a bullet stuck in his eye, was taken to the hospital. Doctors say his prognosis is not good — his injured eye will hardly be recovered. A second victim was a young lady who was injured by baseball bat.

"Rainbow Coffee" is a weekly social event for LGBT-youth and heterosexual allies aiming to support free non-judgmental communication of participants. About 25-30 people were attending the last meeting. It is not the first time when all kinds of homophobic groups in social networks pay vicious attention to the project LaSky-Saint-Petersburg providing services for HIV and other STD prevention on MSM. About a month ago several homophobic pages posted calls for actions against LaSky community center. Today's attack is a result of escalation of homophobic climate in the city. Those who foster the feelings of hatred on the ground of sexual orientation or gender identity including politicians and religious leaders must be accounted for it.

This attack aimed at the office of organization for prevention of HIV and STD is an indication that pogrom-makers progressed from attacking activists during street rallies to attacks on closed private social events. Human Rights defenders of the city are following this incident with an intense attention and will press for just and fair investigation of this homophobic hate crime.

Adds activist Anastasia Smirnova:

"Pogroms are becoming a reality — now it is not migrants, but the St Petersburg office of LaSky, HIV/AIDS organization for MSM. Two masked men with traumatic guns attacked LaSky's 'rainbow' social just 40 minutes ago. The police arrived on site and left right away saying that they did not see any evidence of the crime. Two guests of the social were hospitalized.

(image from 2010 protest in St. Petersburg)