On May 17th, on the International Day Against Homophobia, LGBT activists will hold mourning actions in several Russian cities. Black balloons and black ribbons will be added to the traditional rainbow colors of the flashmobs in memory of the slain Vladislav Tornovoy, who was brutally murdered on May 9th in Volgograd, in the south of Russia.
At present, the crime is classified as murder, with no hate motive. At the same time, when questioned, one of the suspects confessed to Vladislav’s coming out being the trigger for his torture and murder.
Vladislav’s body was found on a playground in a residential area. According to the investigation, Vlad was thrown on the ground and stepped on repeatedly, which caused multiple ribs fractures. After that the attackers stripped him naked and inserted beer bottles in his anus. By that time Vlad had already lost consciousness. His torturers put a cardboard under his body, lit it, and left. As they later explained to the investigation, on the way home it occurred to them that if Vlad regained consciousness, he would go to the police. They decided to come back and finish him off. One of them took a big stone of approximately 20 kilograms, and threw it onto the victim’s head several times.
While the media in Russia are immersed in a debate over Vlad’s actual sexual orientation, the key message this act – and the debate around it – are sending is that homosexuality is perceived to be an insult to ‘traditional values’ and a legitimate justification of violence, reflecting the logic of the government’s homophobic policies.
The Russian LGBT Network will closely follow the investigation and further trial, and will advocate for the sentencing to account for the hate motive.
We call on everyone to join the mourning on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia by following suit the initiative of Russian LGBT activists on May 17th in memory of Vladislav Tornovoy and all victims of homophobic and transphobic hate crimes.