By Conor Fortune, News Writer at Amnesty International, who recently returned from St Petersburg
Ekaterina Khomenko’s throat was slit when a street cleaner found her in a car with the engine still running in St Petersburg earlier this month.
According to media reports, police initially suggested – somewhat incredibly – that she might have committed suicide. An investigation is now under way into the actual cause of the 29-year-old’s death. The authorities haven’t ruled out the possibility that she may have been attacked on the basis of her sexual orientation: she was openly lesbian and gave tango lessons to same-sex couples.
In the days before she died, a known extremist had posted hate speech and threats on a social media page she owned, in response to a photo she posted of two women embraced n the sensual Argentine dance in a St Petersburg Metro station.
Whatever the motive, Ekaterina’s death sent a shock wave through St Petersburg’s small but active network of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) organizations. When I met some of them this week, they were visibly shaken.