A gay Russian influencer was found dead in St. Peterburg Sunday. According to The Daily Star, Ali Zabinov, better known as Ego Gromov on TikTok and Instagram, was found beaten and strangled to death in the home of a friend. Police have arrested the unnamed friend on suspicion of murder.
Local media cited by IB Times reported that Zabinov had visited the apartment of the 46-year-old friend looking to borrow some money last Saturday. The pair began to drink heavily, and Zabinov decided to spend the night. The man discovered the influencer’s unresponsive body in the morning, and alerted the police.
"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 allegedly told the police, according to local reports shared with the IB Times.
Police found the body lying face down with bruising on the neck consistent with strangulation, as well as signs of beating on the body according to DeadDeath. Policed speculated the unnamed friend killed Zabinov in a rage after the young gay influencer flirted with him, but provided no evidence to support this theory.
The young influencer had reportedly been subjected to homophobic abuse and threats online for years due to his open sexuality. His TikTok channel (@gromov20) has over 5 thousand followers and 26 thousand likes.
Russia has been a rising hotbed of hatred against the LGBTQ+ community recently. President Vladimir Putin was reelected to a third term in office in July, running on a conservative platform that promised a crackdown on LGBTQ+ rights and recognition. The race featured a ghastly homophobic television commercial that used hateful and outrageous stereotypes to denigrate LGBTQ+ families and marriage equality. The original commercial can be viewed here. Viewer discretion is advised due to hateful imagery and stereotypes. Even rainbow ice cream was accused as being gay propaganda in the months leading up to the election.