VOLGOGRAD, May 13 (RAPSI) – Russian investigators confirmed on Monday a man beaten to death last week in Volgograd, south Russia, was the victim of a homophobic gang, RIA Novosti reports.

The naked body of the 23-year-old man with various injuries, including to his genitalia, was found in the courtyard of an apartment building on May 10, the day after Russia celebrated Victory Day marking the end of World War II.

The victim’s skull was smashed with a 20-kilogram (44 pound) rock and he appeared to have been raped with beer bottles, regional media said. The report said the suspects also tried to burn the body but failed to do so.

“The motive for the crime was the [victim's] non-traditional sexual orientation,” senior regional investigator Andrei Gapchenko said, adding two suspected attackers have been arrested and another man is a witness in the case.

The suspects are a 22-year-old man, who studied with the victim at school, and his 27-year-old friend, who was previously jailed for theft. The latter has admitted his guilt, investigators said.

The statement is a rare attribution by Russian law enforcement authorities of homophobia as a motive. Gay activists claim information citing homophobia as a motive often disappears from investigation documents and such killings are investigated simply as domestic crimes.

A murder investigation has been launched. If convicted, the attackers face up to 15 years in jail.