On November 3, 2013, the LaSky LGBT community center in downtown Petersburg was attacked by two masked men. Two people were injured during the attack, including 27-year-old Dmitry Chizhevsky, who sustained serious damage in one eye after being shot with a pneumatic pistol.
On November 5, Mr. Chizhevsky posted the following statement (in Russian) on his Vkontakte page. It was published later the same day as a blog on the web site of radio station Echo of Moscow.
So I guess I should write something. Many of the doctors are saying the chances of restoring my eye are minimal. But all the same I do not believe them: I still imagine that when the bandage is removed I will be able to see with it again. I guess I have not come to terms with the diagnosis, but I never will! We are now working on a plan involving a trip to a foreign clinic, but I have no passport nor, as it turns out, am I registered anywhere. I had myself taken off the registry at one address and just could not get around to going to my local residence registration office. It is not clear how long it will take to do the passport, but the foreign clinic is willing to write a letter to the Federal Migration Service asking them to speed up the processing. If anyone can help out with this problem, I would be quite grateful. That is the main problem now.
I feel really sorry for the stupid guys who did this to me. I am sure they did not expect such consequences themselves. I will not be demanding they be harshly punished if they turn themselves in and confess to police investigators. Anyway, we know that there were a number of cameras around the site where the attack occurred, that they were caught on them, and that police have video footage of them. Regardless of their behavior, I realize they are only tools. The blame for what happened to my eye lies not with them but with every politician who has supported and stirred the homophobic hysteria in recent months. My disability is on the conscience of Milonov, Mizulina, Yarovaya and other such politicians. If you had treated citizens like human beings, if you had not stuffed the heads of these guys with your hatred, none of this would have happened. You are responsible not only for my injury but also for these fellows, who are facing serious prison terms and ruined lives. Using every legal means, I will be avenged on each of you. The truth is on my side, and sooner or later you will answer for everything.
I want to say a big thanks to my mom, my sister, civil society activists, the Russian LGBT Network, Coming Out, and LaSky. And to each of the hundreds of strangers who has written me kind words of support. You are my heroes. Your commitment makes me believe in Russia, in our people, in our future and in justice. I beg you not to be afraid of anything. I don’t like it, but I realize now is a very important moment: if we cannot get an honest investigation and punishment for the guilty parties (even suspended sentences, if they repent; I won’t harbor malice towards them), then the homophobes will understand they can get away with anything in this country, that they can attack us not only at protests and in clubs but also simply find us where we live and attack us one by one. We must act together to stop the wave of violence beginning before our eyes. I would like to say we had another choice, that we could choose just to live our lives and not be involved in defending decency, honesty and justice, but let’s be honest: actually, I am no activist.
I did not go to LGBT rallies and was not involved in LGBT protest actions. I was around and lent my support, and sometimes I went to closed meetings. But I must admit I was afraid of being an activist, of course, and tried to spare myself. That did not work out in my case. It was an absolute coincidence: I could not have anticipated or prevented this. I realize that anyone, absolutely anyone could have ended up in my shoes. And now I just do not believe there is anywhere to hide from hatred towards us. :( Guys, I ask you to visit or call a Russian LGBT Network branch, find out how you can help, and help anyway you can. Don’t overdo it, but devote at least one hour a week to the fight for justice. Unfortunately, truth, justice and honesty have no other defenders than you.
I would like to make a separate appeal to all activists: a special responsibility now rests on you. I beg you—no, I demand that you now make safety the cornerstone of your work. Be sure to put cameras in your offices; don’t skimp on safety. If you organize protests (and feisty Kirill and Danka are eager to organize something), think over your escape routes and security plan. Assign team leaders to coordinate protests, people every protester can go to. Make sure to provide security checklists for each protest and hand them out to the folks who come to them.
Gay athletes, steroid-using bodybuilders, the dream of all girls and boys! I beg you to be real men and take responsibility at this difficult moment. Help protect the other guys, show them, at last, our fraternal courage and solidarity. Throughout history, the most courageous and fearless troops were our troops. Is that now a thing of the past? Give advice to the other guys about how and where to train, what weights to pump, what classes to take. If you are a coach and, like me, you realize things could not be worse, that terrible times have come to our country, help out by organizing classes and teaching the guys how to fight. Alas, it is very important right now: I beg you not to remain on the sidelines. Thank you in advance!
Thanks again to all of you. Please take care of yourselves. I love you.
Translated by the Russian Reader