Amnesty International says those responsible for a homophobic attack on a St Petersburg HIV support group – which resulted in a man being shot in the eye – must be brought to justice.
Two people were injured, including one man who lost his sight in one eye as a result.
About 25-30 people were present in the building at the time of the incident.
Denis Krivosheev, Europe and Central Asia deputy director at Amnesty International, said: “This latest insidious attack is sadly characteristic of a widespread atmosphere of homophobia in Russia today. If nothing is done to combat the hate, the ground is fertile for further violence.
“The Russian authorities must seek out, investigate and prosecute all those responsible for these violent attacks. Russian President Putin has publicly said the country would welcome lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex – LGBTI – activists at the upcoming Sochi Winter Olympics, but such pledges ring hollow in the face of these on-going hate crimes.
“This was a serious violent assault that has caused severe injuries and could have resulted in death. Those responsible must face serious consequences to the full extent of the law.”
The St Petersburg Public Prosecutor has reportedly opened an investigation into “hooliganism” after the attack.
Anastasia Smirnova of the Russian LGBT Network said that police arrived at the scene of the attack but quickly left, because “they did not see any evidence of the crime”.