Six LGBTQ people were assaulted in Moscow on Saturday in what is widely believed to be a brutal acid attack.
The victims were exiting the LGBTIQ+ Family Conference, an annual event hosted by Resource LGBTQIA Moscow, when they were accosted by a man who threw an unidentified substance on them. Activist Zoya Matisova, a member of the Russian LGBT Network, told GayStarNews that the liquid “smelled like acetone.”
Reports indicate that LGBTQ advocates were shoved to the ground by the unknown assailant and luckily sustained minor injuries in the scuffle. Acid attacks are known to cause severe lifelong disfigurement and even death.
Medics were immediately called to the scene to provide emergency care.
Police have yet to identify suspects in the Nov. 11 altercation, but LGBTQ activists in Russia claim that what is most concerning is that the attacker knew their whereabouts in order to target them. Advocates with the Russian LGBT Network tell GayStarNews they are concerned government operatives may have infiltrated the organization.
“I believe there was a persona spywho pretended to be an LGBTQ person to get the correct information about the event which was hidden from the public,” director Mikhail Tumasov told GayStarNews.
Claiming that incidents like these occur with regularity in Russia, the advocacy organization believes the attack was a hate crime intended to target members of the LGBTQ community. The Russian LGBT Network said in a statement that “there should be no place for violence in the society.”
The event was the fourth meeting of the annual conference, which has reportedly been postponed following the violence.
Resource, the LGBTQ group behind the summit, claims that its mission is to ensure that queer and trans people are “completely integrated and represented in Russian society” on its website. It aims to combat discrimination and promote tolerance in the conservative nation, where LGBTQ individuals face widespread persecution.
Hate crimes in Russia have skyrocketed following the passage of a 2013 law forbidding the spread of information on “nontraditional sexual relationships” to minors. The so-called “anti-propaganda law” serves to criminalize pro-LGBTQ expression.
Earlier this year, activist Evdokia Romanova was fined $789 for posting news articles on LGBTQ issues from The Guardian and BuzzFeed on her Facebook page.