Rights campaigners say Chechnya authorities hunting down LGBT escapees
The Russian LGBT Network claims four Chechen-speakers abducted Daghestan native Ibragim Selimkhanov in Moscow in May and took him for interrogation in the Chechnya capital, Grozny, about other gay people in the region.
In Grozny, he was questioned regarding the network’s assistance for the gay community in the north Caucasus.
Human rights groups and western governments say the Chechen authorities repress political opponents, discriminate against women and harshly persecute sexual minorities, including with the use of abductions, torture and extrajudicial killings.
The Chechen leadership denies the allegations.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Selimkhanov’s abduction was the latest incident in Chechnya’s relentless assault on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.
In 2017 and 2019, the Chechen authorities rounded up and tortured men perceived to be gay or bisexual. Lesbians’ ordeals were often perpetrated by relatives.
Chechnya is ruled by former militant leader Ramzan Kadyrov (pictured), who receives a significant degree of autonomy and subsidies from Moscow in return for loyalty to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The Chechen authorities control virtually all aspects of social life, including politics, religion, academic discussions and family issues.
In 2017, gay and bisexual men began escaping the Chechen purges. An unnamed gay Chechen man living in Russia told HRW: “My life is ruined. I cannot go back. And it’s not safe here either. They have long arms and they can find me and the others anywhere in Russia, just give them time.”
In September 2017, shortly after reaching Canada, a gay Chechen man in Toronto faced threats. The Canadian police investigated claims two Chechen men approached him on a dating app then abused him for his sexual orientation.
In February, Russian police returned Salekh Magamadov and Ismail Isaev to Grozny, where they are still in detention and face prosecution for posting anti-government messages on social media. In March, the Chechen authorities detained and threatened the men’s relatives who demanded access to legal counsel. United Nations human rights campaigners and the European Court of Human Rights have demanded the men be granted access to medical care and legal representation. A lawyer met them in August and said they had been tortured in prison.
Selimkhanov was released to live under surveillance with his mother and he escaped Chechnya for a second time.
In Moscow he filed a complaint with the police in an attempt to bring his abductors to justice.
Ramzan Kadyrov and Vladimir Putin. Picture credit: Wikimedia