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Brutal torture, beating death of Russian gay man sparks fears of more violence

MOSCOW- They beat him. They shoved beer bottles in his anus. They tried to set him on fire. Then they crushed his head with a heavy stone.

A 23-year-old man in Russia’s southern city of Volgograd was tortured and killed after revealing he was gay during a drinking session last Thursday night, investigators said, taking a rare step by linking a murder to homophobia.

The victim’s 22-year-old friend and a former convict aged 27 were detained for the attack, which gay rights activists say is a brutal example of rising violence against homosexuals in the year since President Vladimir Putin latched on to family values to shore up support in Russia’s largely conservative society.

Along with a planned new law banning the spread of gay “propaganda” among minors, Putin has also overseen a religious revival that aims to give the Orthodox Church, whose leader has suggested that homosexuality is one of the main threats to Russia, a more public role as a moral authority.

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