On the night from Saturday to Sunday in St. Petersburg civil activist Elena Grigorieva was brutally murdered. Her body was found near her home with multiple stab wounds and signs of suffocation. The Directorate of the Investigative Committee for St. Petersburg opened a criminal case under Part 1 of Article 105 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (“Murder”). At first, the media reported that there was a suspect in the case, but later this message was denied with reference to the Investigative Committee. Activists associate the murder of Grigorieva with threats that she repeatedly received because of her views, public activities and sexual orientation. We understand what is known about the tragedy that happened.
Elena Grigorieva moved to St. Petersburg about a year and a half ago, and before that she lived in Veliky Novgorod, where she had a mother and an adult daughter. Her activist activities also began there - she was primarily a political activist and organized a series of anti-war actions. “Many actions were coordinated there, she was always an applicant, and she was well known in the local administration,” says Olga Smirnova, co-chair of the St. Petersburg democratic movement Solidarity, of which Grigorieva was also a member. “And she knew very well what she was doing, because, unlike in St. Petersburg, actions were allowed there, but then the organizer was punished under a far-fetched pretext.” Smirnova says that the activist had two high-profile cases about the demonstration of Nazi symbols, but in fact there was no demonstration, the defense smashed this statement to smithereens: “She participated in almost all protest actions, both with Yabloko and with other organizations, and this is exactly where we differed from her - she believed that it was necessary to support everyone and everywhere, if only it was opposition."
The media calls her primarily an LGBT activist, but her activities were not limited to community support. Elena Grigorieva took part in a variety of activist activities: against the introduction of the Platon trucker toll system, against hostilities in Ukraine, in support of the Khachaturian sisters. One of the last actions in which Elena Grigorieva took part was just a picket in support of the sisters - she stood with a poster "Your choice is to survive violence or self-defense." In addition, Grigorieva participated in the “Help Group for Detainees” (a volunteer organization that provides various types of support to those who were detained at public events) - she brought food and water to the police stations, disseminated information.
“In St. Petersburg, she quickly took root and became loved and respected by a wide variety of people. She took part in all our actions - both in “Strategy-6”, monthly held in support of political prisoners, and in “Strategy-18” - in support of the Crimean Tatars, and in the campaign last summer for the release of Oleg Sentsov,”recalls Olga Smirnova. - She behaved very decisively from the first days. The actions in support of Ukraine were especially important for her, she was literally obsessed with the anti-war theme. Indeed, in recent months she also participated in LGBT actions, she was detained twice in front of my eyes, I was in a support group and saw the surprise of the police, who had known her for a long time from her participation in other actions - oh, also LGBT! The last time I saw her was on July 18, at the pickets in support of the Crimean Tatars, we said goodbye somehow in passing, and she seemed to disappear - she left the pickets and did not return."
“The last time I saw her at pickets in support of the Crimean Tatars, we said goodbye somehow casually, and she seemed to disappear - she left the pickets and did not return”
Activists recall that Grigorieva's worldview has changed over time.At first, she adhered to moderately nationalist views, but after the annexation of Crimea and the outbreak of hostilities in Ukraine, she changed her point of view and began to participate in left-liberal activities. Elena Grigorieva spoke about her bisexuality several months ago; in the spring, she also came out as a person living with the hepatitis virus. Grigorieva was an open LGBT activist for only a few months.
“But she continued to keep in touch with her former comrades-in-arms, who clearly did not sympathize with her new convictions, she complained to her friends from Solidarity that she was being threatened, accused of having deserted. This was a feature of her life - she did not break with people who no longer shared her views, she could enter into interpersonal conflicts with them on the basis of these disagreements,”says human rights activist Dinar Idrisov.
After the coming-out, Elena Grigorieva received threats. The activist repeatedly appealed to the police for help, but representatives of law enforcement agencies believed that the appeals related to “various conflict situations of an everyday nature with the participation of acquaintances of the victim,” and not real threats to life. Ksenia Mikhailova, a lawyer with the LGBT initiative group "Coming Out", helped Elena Grigorieva file a complaint with the police and the Investigative Committee. Mikhailova says that after contacting the police, Grigorieva began to be threatened even more actively. According to her, the activist filed a total of three applications against three different people - but what crimes are being discussed, Mikhailova does not disclose, referring to attorney-client privilege. Friends of Elena Grigorieva say that she told how she became a victim of rape - but the investigation considered the charges unproven.
After the coming-out, Elena Grigorieva received threats. The activist repeatedly turned to the police for help, but they said that there were no real threats to her life.
The activist of the Peaceful Resistance of St. Petersburg, Vladimir Shipitsyn, says that the woman received threats from "former comrades in the nationalist camp, who could not bear that Lena went to the right-wing liberals, and then became an LGBT activist." In addition, threats came from Timur Bulatov, a well-known anti-LGBT activist. Bulatov is known for disrupting LGBT events, as well as publicly disclosing information about LGBT people and outgoing them. LGBT activist Aleksandr Khmelev, who was friends with Elena, says that she complained to him about threats from Bulatov - according to her, the man said that he "looked after her coffin." Acquaintance activists recall that Bulatov openly threatened a woman in a public place. Grigorieva said that she turned to the police about these threats.
Public threats to Elena Grigorieva came from the homophobic project "Saw" (some activists also associate the murder of Grigorieva with its activities). The project became widely known last spring, although the organization itself claims to be five years old this year. The name "Saw" is borrowed from the series of films of the same name - but the participants hunt for LGBT people. The website "Saw" published data of LGBT people, on which it was proposed to organize a hunt. In early July, the Saw participants announced a “new season” of hunting, publishing a list of people for whom “very dangerous and cruel gifts were prepared”. The list included Elena Grigorieva - in addition to her, there were, for example, Elena Klimova and Igor Kochetkov, as well as the editorial offices of Novaya Gazeta and Radio Svoboda. The project participants promised that they would soon become a "public movement with state support."
LGBT activists note that it was not possible to establish a direct link between the real attacks on LGBT people and the threats of the organization, but they do not deny that it exists, among other things, for intimidation.A few days ago, even before the murder of Elena Grigorieva, the Pila website was blocked due to complaints from the Yekaterinburg LGBT Resource Center. But activists argue that this is not the first blockage, which means that there are no guarantees that threats and attacks will stop. The persons involved in the "Pyla" list sent applications to the Investigative Committee and the Main Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in St. Petersburg - they ask law enforcement agencies to identify the authors of the site and check them for involvement in the murder of Elena Grigorieva.
cover: Zuma / TASS