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Russians suspected of killing gay neighbour: officials

Russian villagers are suspected of kicking and stabbing to death a neighbour in the remote far Eastern region of Kamchatka because he was gay, investigators said Monday

The suspects, three men in the village of Zaporozhye, allegedly killed a man on Wednesday “because their fellow villager had a non-traditional sexual orientation,” the Investigative Committee said in a statement, using a euphemism for gay.

“The victim died at the scene from his injuries. Then the suspects tried to cover up the crime by putting the body in his car, pouring on petrol and setting it alight,” investigators said.

The three men have been detained.

Even though the investigators confirmed that the attack was believed to have been driven by homophobia, in a rare admission from officials on the sensitive issue in Russia, the suspects are being investigated for murder, not for a hate crime.

The victim was named by the Interfax news agency as the deputy director of a local airport, citing police.

The brutal murder came less than a month after a 23-year-old man was beaten to death and sodomised with beer bottles in an apparent homophobic attack in the southern city of Volgograd.

Russia decriminalised homosexuality in 1993 but homophobia remains widespread and socially acceptable.

The Russian parliament is now considering passing a controversial national law banning “homosexual propaganda” among minors. The law is already in place in several regions including Saint Petersburg.