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Russian court jails man for 23 years over gay murders

A Russian court jailed a man for 23 years for the murder of two gay men he met on the internet, prosecutors in Saint Petersburg said yesterday.

Mikhail Kurilnik, 26, was invited to his victims' homes after making initial contact on the Internet in January 2009, a spokesman for the prosecutor's office said. He then attacked his victims using a knife and a hammer, killing two and injuring a third man, the spokesman added.

Mr Kurilnik, a Ukrainian citizen, was also convicted of robbing his victims, the spokesman said.

Homophobia is rampant in Russia, where homosexuality was a criminal offence until 1993 and classed as a mental disorder until 1999.

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