Fresh Chechen LGBT torture: NGOs

Fresh Chechen LGBT torture: NGOs

Chechnya has launched a fresh crackdown on the gay community in which at least two have died and about 40 more have been seized, Russian rights groups reported.

In 2017, more than 100 gay men were reportedly arrested and tortured, some fatally, in the largely conservative and Muslim southern Russian republic.

Activists believe numerous men and women have again been taken in recent weeks to a detention centre near Argun, a town 20km from the capital of Grozny.

The Chechen government denied the accusations and Moscow claimed to have conducted an investigation, which found nothing to support the allegations.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has previously said being gay was not a crime. “What’s more, homosexual people can’t feel inferior here because there is no professional, career or social discrimination against them,” said Putin, who ironically has become a gay icon.

Alvi Karimov, a spokesman for Chechnya’s strongman president, Ramzan Kadyrov, was quoted saying by the Interfax news agency that the fresh allegations were “complete lies and don’t have an ounce of truth in them”.

Karimov has claimed no one had been held on suspicion of being gay.

Kadyrov told Interfax in 2017 that gay people do not exist “in Chechen society, there is no such thing as non-traditional orientation”.

The Russian LGBT Network, which says it has been helping victims, said about 40 men and women had been detained since December and at least two of them had died during torture.

The group said it had relocated 150 people who were living in danger in Chechnya.

“Widespread detentions, torture and killings of gay people have resumed in Chechnya,” said Igor Kochetkov of the network. “Persecution of men and women suspected of being gay never stopped. It’s only that its scale has been changing.”

Kochetkov said the latest arrests were sparked when the authorities detained the administrator of VKontakte, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender social media site for the North Caucasus.

“They take away documents, they [threaten] the victims with the criminal proceedings against them or their close ones and they force them to sign empty forms,” he added.

Kochetkov said the authorities found numerous contacts on his phone, sparking a fresh wave of arrests.

In 2017, the Chechen police and military allegedly used electric devices and encouraged relatives to engage in honour killings, according to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Picture credit: Kremlin

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