Systematic Imprisonment and Torturing of Gay Men in Chechnya; Chechen Leader Denies Their Existence in the Republic.

Staff Writer: Olivia E. Bernal

Within the last week in Chechnya, at least 100 men were taken away and three killed, just for being gay.

Updates from the Russian LGBT Network report that gay men are being rounded up, beaten and taken away to “concentration camps” and tortured- including electrocution- and have been forced to sit on bottles.

“We have received about 30 unique messages since April 2,” stated Natalia Poplevskaia, the International Advocacy Officer and Monitoring Program Coordinator with the Russian LGBT Network.

Poplevskaia says the messages are “from residents or former residents of Chechnya who have already been evacuated through their channels.”

The Network set up a hotline after reports of a government coordinated round-up on Chechen men suspected to be gay or bisexual. Before this, unexplained disappearances went back to last March.


People protest over the conflict in Chechnya.


“It is crucial that reports of abductions, unlawful detentions, torture, beatings, and killings of men perceived to be gay or bisexual are investigated thoroughly,” stated United Nations human right experts, encouraging investigation of the Russian republic of Chechnya.

A Russian newspaper, the Novaya Gazette, quoted from Russian federal law enforcement officials, that the men are taken because of “connection with their non-traditional sexual orientation, or suspicions of such.”

Alvi Karimov, a Chechen government spokesperson, says what the Novaya Gazette is reporting about the conflict is “an absolute lie.”

“You can’t arrest or repress someone who just doesn’t exist in the republic,” Karimov went on to say.

“If there were such people in the Chechen republic, law enforcement wouldn’t have a problem with them because their relatives would send them to where they could never return.

Despite still declaring that what the Novaya Gazette is reporting are lies, Chechens are making – and some of their religious leaders- are making threatening statements against the newspaper. Due to recent turns of events, these threats are being taken very seriously.

“Silence and inaction in such a situation make all of those able to do anything accomplices,” the Novaya Gazette wrote last week. “So Novaya Gazeta is continuing to work in Chechnya. But we understand very well how high a price we may pay.  The still uninvestigated murders of our colleagues, Anna Politkovskaya and Natalya Estemirova, are clear proof of that.”

Other independent media in Russia have backed the newspaper. Alexei  Venediktov, editor in chief of Echo of Moscow, threatened by Kadyrov, called the Chechen leaders a “homegrown ISIS.”

Some men, whether or not the men are suspected to because be gay, they are released them back to their families. This has led to “honor killings”, as some families are not so accepting.

“Essentially they call for the relatives to kill them with their own hands,” stated Tatyana Vinnichenko, spokesperson of the Russian LGBT network. “The men who’ve come to us say that  their relatives would kill them in order to clear the family’s reputation.”

Recently, one man, having survived the torture condoned by his own country -and family-, wrote to the Novaya Gazette.

“They attached wires from electroshockers to our hands and turned the dial of a generator, creating a shock. It was painful. I endured as much as I could then lost consciousness and fell,” he sent the newspaper a picture of his bruises.

“When the current goes and your body starts to shake, you stop thinking and begin to scream. All this time you’re sitting and hear the screams of those being tortured.”



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