5 Critical Updates on Chechnya’s Anti-Gay Purge

Since horrifying news broke of Chechnya’s reported crackdown on gay men, the story has developed quickly. Here are five must-know updates on Chechnya’s anti-gay purge, including how the world hopes to address the crisis.

1. Journalists who first broke the Chechnya story have had to go into hiding

Elena Milashina was a member of the journalistic team at “Novaya Gazeta” who broke the story about Chechen authorities detaining over 100 gay men. Milashina also contributed to the subsequent reports of electro-shock torture and beatings that were inflicted on gay men while under arbitrary arrest.

Since releasing that story, Miliashina has reportedly received death threats and has now been forced into hiding. She is said to be looking to escape from Chechnya.

“They reacted [to the story] in a terrifying manner… ” Miliashina stated. “On April 3, in the biggest mosque in Grozny, 15,000 people came together and declared a Jihad on us… not just me personally, but all journalists at Novaya Gazeta.”

This is not the first time Miliashina has had to flee Chechnya due to her work. In 2015 she went into hiding after reporting that a teenage girl was being forced to marry a police officer. Novaya Gazeta was then threatened with reprisals for its reportage.

2. The UN condemns reports of violence in Chechnya

UN experts for the Office of High Commissioner, including agencies dealing with extrajudicial detentions and executions, issued an extensive and scathing statement on the Chechen situation, saying in part:

These are acts of persecution and violence on an unprecedented scale in the region, and constitute serious violations of the obligations of the Russian Federation under international human rights law …. We call on the authorities to proceed with the immediate release of everyone unlawfully detained in the Republic of Chechnya on the basis of their actual or perceived sexual orientation, to conduct prompt, thorough and impartial investigations into all suspected cases of abduction, unlawful detention, torture and unlawful killing, and to ensure that all those involved in such acts are held to account, and that victims are provided with effective remedy.

Agencies like Human Rights Watch have previously warned of serious human rights abuses in Chechnya, but world governments have been slow to react. The pressing urgency of the anti-gay crackdown has reinvigorated calls for action, not just against Chechnya as a republic, but also against Russia as a federal power that has shown a complete disregard for enforcing international human rights standards.

3. Chechnya claims the entire story is made up

Meanwhile, Chechen state media has vowed to create a “tell-all investigation,” into how the story was supposedly “invented by opposition media.”

Ramzan Kadyrov, Chechnya’s leader, has disavowed claims of a crackdown on LGBT people, maintaining that human rights groups were “using the most unworthy methods, distorting reality, trying to blacken our society, lifestyle, traditions and customs.”

Chechnya’s minister for social politics reportedly went one step further, demanding an apology. The Denver Post reports:

“To finish this dangerous conflict between us once and for all, you have to fulfill just three conditions,” wrote Djambulat Umarov, the in the Chechen Republic. “First, you must apologize to the Chechen people for the disgusting nonsense that you spread.” He also demanded that reporters abandon using anonymous sources and stop complaining of threats received from Chechnya.

Religious authorities have also reportedly issued a decree vowing to take swift action against the journalists who broke this story. They claim that reporters have supposedly damaged the dignity of men in Chechnya by suggesting that gay people exist in the republic.

4. Global demonstrations will highlight Chechnya human rights abuses

A number of demonstrations have already taken place throughout the UK and Europe, with an event held outside Russia’s embassy in London on Wednesday, April 12, that drew hundreds of banner-waving protesters.

You can see a video of the protests below:

Other demonstrations are planned to occur across the UK and throughout Europe.

5. Human rights groups work to evacuate at-risk gay people

It has become apparent that, at least for the time being, Russia will do nothing meaningful to combat the Chechen crackdown on LGBTQI people. As a result, human rights groups in the area have begun organizing ways to get those most at risk out of the Republic.

Canadian group Rainbow Railroad executive director Kimahli Powell explained:

Since we first received initial reports of gay concentration camps being established in Chechnya, Rainbow Railroad immediately re-classified Eastern Europe as a priority region. This means we’re expanding our on-the-ground contacts as well as increasing our capacity to identify and assess new or alternative safe routes out of Chechnya.

Other groups are similarly requesting funds and resources to tackle this problem.

As the statement makes clear, however, this is dependent on Europe, the UK, Canada and the US making emergency visas and asylum routes accessible. While a number of nations have condemned the Chechen crackdown, so far none have made it explicitly clear that they will offer asylum.

Photo credit: Thinkstock.


Carl R
Carl R8 days ago


Carl R
Carl R20 days ago


Christian M
Christian Menges27 days ago

Sad world

Carl R
Carl R27 days ago


Elaine W
Elaine W28 days ago

The only consolation here is that some people are noticing and calling attention to the self righteous evil of this bigotry.

Val M
Val M29 days ago

It's 2017! How can this be happening?

Philippa P
Philippa Pabout a month ago

OMG! Horrific.

lori G
lori Gearhartabout a month ago

Thanks !

lori G
lori Gearhartabout a month ago

Live and let live.....in peace ✌

Margie Fabout a month ago

Thank you