An openly homosexual Russian TikTok star was found murdered at his friend's house, reports said on Thursday. According to the police, the social media influencer died a violent death.
Ali Zabirov, who was bullied online for years over his sexual orientation, was found dead at his friend's house in St Petersburg on Aug 2, the Daily Star reported Thursday. Police launched an investigation into the murder and suspected the flat's owner â a 46-year-old man â could be responsible for Zabirov's death.
The landlord was arrested after he alerted the police after allegedly finding Zabirov's body. The man, whose identity was not released by the police, told the officials that Zabirov had visited him the day before to borrow money, and ended up staying overnight at the flat.
However, the following day the man found Zabirov unresponsive and believed the young man died of a drug overdose. According to the police, the deceased died of violent death and wounds around his neck indicated that he was strangulated.
"I tried to wake him up. I called the police myself. What could I do?! If I knew that he was going to die here, would I let him in or what?!," the man told the police, according to a Russian news channel that shared direct quotes from the suspect's interrogation.
According to local media reports, Zabirov and the landlord were drinking the previous night and the TikTok star allegedly tried to seduce the man leading to a violent confrontation that led to his death.
The police also took Zabirov's friend into custody.
Who Was Ali Zabirov?
Zabirov was a 23-year-old social media influencer who gained fame on TikTok and went by the name Egor Gromov on the social media platform. He was a constant target of hate and online abuse for his sexual orientation in Russia, which largely remains homophobic.
Zabirov's death prompted social media users to criticize Russia for its hatred toward the LGBT community.
"The cost of hate is human life. This death is a terrible tragedy. Every person who spreads homophobic prejudice and hate to others, his blood is on your hands. Please look in the mirror, smile & proudly proclaim "I'm a murderer." Are you really a good person? #StoptheHate #LGBTQ," a Twitter user said.
Another user tweeted: "Another [waste] of a young life because of hate. What is #Putin so afraid of, being outed? #LoveIsLove," while another Twitter user said, "Russia still needs #revolution"
Russia's Anti-Gay Problems
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who reportedly follows the Russian Orthodox Church, had repeatedly said homosexuality and gender fluidity are against traditional values of the Russian society. He also said he would not legalize same-sex marriage as long as he remained the president. In 2013, he signed a law that criminalized the "public promotion of homosexuality."
Last month, Russian LGBT activist Yulia Tsvetkovashe was fined $1,000 for spreading "gay propaganda" among children by posting drawings of homosexual couples with children online.