Masked Assailants Attack AIDS Prevention Center
Published: November 6, 2013 (Issue # 1785)
Two masked men attacked an LGBT community center in downtown St. Petersburg on Sunday Nov. 3, firing a pellet gun and injuring two people in the attack. One of the victims was hospitalized with a serious eye injury.
The attack took place at around 7:20 p.m. at the LaSky community center, a project dedicated to help stop the spread of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. Between 25 and 30 people had gathered on Sunday for the center’s Rainbow Coffee Party, a weekly meeting of LGBT youth and heterosexual friends of the community, the organization said in a statement released on Sunday.
According to those at LaSky, they sat in the unguarded offices located in a basement at 90 Fontanka embankment, where the Sunday gatherings are usually held, and discussed the March Against Hatred that was held in St. Petersburg on Nov. 2. The annual anti-fascist rally is dedicated to local scholar and legal expert Nikolai Girenko who was killed by neo-Nazis in 2004.
Anna Prutskova, an activist with the bisexual rights group lyuBI who works as a reporter with the Rosbalt news agency, said she was the first to see the attackers when she went to the door to make a call on her mobile phone because of poor reception in the office.
“I was talking on the phone when the door opened and I saw two young people wearing masks, carrying a baseball bat and a pistol,” Prutskova told The St. Petersburg Times on Monday.
“At first I thought it was some silly practical joke and then I asked them who they were. They said they were looking for their friend and started pushing me out of the way. I realized that it was probably not a joke and ran away from them. That’s when they started shooting. I was hit in the back and Dmitry Chizhevsky was hit in the eye.”
Prutskova said the attackers used a pneumatic pistol that fired small round metal pellets. According to Prutskova, the attack lasted about a minute before the attackers fled.
“We locked the door very quickly, without even looking in which direction they ran, and called for the police and an ambulance,” she said.
Prutskova suggested that the attack could have been a reaction to the March Against Hatred.
“Firstly, there are neo-Nazi groups that don’t like us very much. Secondly, it could be revenge for the march because it went smoothly enough and we asked the police to detain several provocateurs [who interfered with the march],” Prutskova said. “Perhaps they did not like that very much.”
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