Chechnya denies state slaughter
A Chechen government spokesman has rejected a report by the only independent Russian newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, that 27 Chechens had been killed without trial.
Dzhambulat Umarov, Chechen “information” minister, said his government detained people suspected of terror activity on a regular basis and the newspaper’s reports had not proven that anyone had been executed.
Novaya Gazeta reported last month that about 27 suspects had been executed after being implicated in December 17 gun battles with the police in the Chechen capital, Grozny.
The newspaper is partly owned by ex-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and former KGB spy Alexander Lebedev, whose family control the Evening Standard in London.
Its story last week included photographs of 24 of the men, reportedly obtained from the Chechen police. Chechnya leader Ramzan Kadyrov has ruled the north Caucasus republic with an iron grip for more than a decade.
The report also alleged that relatives of the missing Chechens were forced to sign statements saying those missing had left Chechnya and that they had no grounds for filing missing-person reports.
Novaya Gazeta has published a series of reports alleging Chechen abuses, including torture and executions by the security forces.
The murders are not linked to the well-documented murders of suspected gay men by the Grozny authorities.
A Russian lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) advocacy group has announced that it evacuated 64 people from Chechnya over the last four months.
The Russian LGBT Network said members of the terrorised Chechen community were relocated to shelters in central Russia. The St Petersburg-based NGOs said more than 130 residents from Chechnya and neighbouring republics “requested assistance of a different nature because of the persecution from the local authorities and hostile relatives”.
Novaya Gazeta in April reported that the republic’s security services arrested and tortured more than 100 allegedly gay men.
“They threw me to the floor and beat me,” the LGBT Network quoted someone identified as IJ saying. “They beat my chest and my face with their feet, and they hit my head against the floor.”
IJ said he thought his captors would rape him when they took off their clothes. A man identified as AB said he was forced to watch a video of a man having a hollow tube and a stretch of barbed wire inserted into his anus.
“They enjoyed the torture,” said the witness. “We were forced to beat others up and to electrocute them. They instructed other inmates to do whatever they wanted with us.”
Members of Russia’s embattled gay community protest against Chechen killings. Picture credit: Wikimedia