Chechnya has Resumed its Terrifying Anti-Gay Purge

Reports are surfacing that over 40 people have been detained in Chechnya’s latest anti-LGBT crackdown, with two fatalities linked to this new, terrifying purge.

The Russian LGBT Network’s Igor Kochetkov said  in a press release that, as has always been the case, getting exact details on these arrests is almost impossible. Based on accounts from the group’s sources, he says, “we know that around 40 people were detained, both men and women. At least two people died as a result of tortures.”

Kochetkov adds that “law enforcement officers” are orchestrating this campaign and that, “the local police makes every effort to prevent victims from leaving the region or applying to the courts in the future. 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”.

The new wave of arrests seems to trace back to the detention of a man in December of 2018 who was an administrator for a group of gay people on the social network Vkontakte. We know from reports that gay men who were detained under the previous crackdown were made to give up names of other people they suspected or knew to be gay. This appears to be what happened here, with this one man being the gateway for dozens more arrests. From there, people have been detained at a semi-legal facility in Argun, the same detention center that authorities used in the previous crackdown.

The Russian LGBT Network has kept a close eye on things since the 2017 campaign in Chechnya, where they believe officials killed at least three people and tortured 200 or more people. Some individuals who went missing during that outbreak of violence have still not been found, and the group suspects that law enforcement may have killed them. While low-key arrests are reportedly continuing, such activity had been scaled back following a global outcry against Chechnya’s officials.

However, the Russian LGBT Network is sounding the alarm that while the 2017 campaign of terror was bad, this latest wave of extrajudicial arrests seems to be even more brutal.

It’s difficult to independently verify the Russian LGBT Network’s claims, primarily because Chechnya, like its Russian parent, acts very much outside the realms of accountability. However, international experts have said they believe these claims to be credible because they fit into the wider picture of Chechnya’s current political activities.

What is perhaps most disturbing about this latest crackdown is that authorities are reportedly seizing travel documents from detainees. This means that they have very little hope of escape from Chechnya. Since the 2017 crackdown the Russian LGBT Network has enabled over 140 people to find refuge outside of Chechnya, but the seizing of travel documents will make this harder. It also shows just how callous this attack on Chechnya’s LGBT people has become.

Chechnya’s officials are denying these claims. “If even a single person were arrested, let alone 40, the entire Chechen public would have known,” Alvi Kraimov told The BBC. “The claim that two were killed is even more absurd.”

The Chechen government has always denied such acts. Then again, Russia’s President Ramzan Kadyrov is infamous for saying in response to these claims that there are no gay people in Chechnya.

Austrian professor Wolfgang Benedek has also been monitoring the situation in Chechnya and has told the press, “The new purge confirms my findings.” He adds, “The impunity enjoyed by the security forces in Chechnya is so strong that they can afford to ignore my report”.

Benedek, as an Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe human rights rapporteur, investigated the previous campaign and spoke to eye witnesses, people who said they had been detained, and other rights organizations on the ground in Chechnya. Benedek found clear evidence of torture, deprivation of liberty and lack of effective remedies for people reporting these acts.

Other rights groups have pointed out that human rights work in the region is difficult, because President Ramzan Kadyrov has declared human rights workers enemies of the people. This means helping those in need now will be a challenge.

Unless, of course, Russia steps in. Russian authorities previously dismissed the accounts of torture and murder, saying that no one had come forward. So far, the administration appears to be maintaining the same line with its “investigation” on the previous campaign having amounted to very little at all.

Meanwhile, the people of Chechnya continue to suffer. ABC reports that a chilling post made to a Russian social media  reads: ”I ask all who are still at liberty, to take this message seriously and flee the republic as soon as possible.”

The world must pressure Russia and Chechnya to cease this genocidal campaign now. Anything less than the highest of political pressure could literally be a death sentence.

Photo credit: Getty Images.

35 comments

Hannah A
Hannah A4 days ago

Thank you for sharing

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Dr. Jan H
Dr. Jan H8 days ago

thanks

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Joan E
Joan E11 days ago

What would it take to have a whole world that cares about all people, the entire environment, and the health, safety and welfare of everything?

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pam w
pam w22 days ago

Don't tell us there aren't people in this country quietly APPLAUDING and wishing the US would implement such a public policy!

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Debbi W
Debbi W26 days ago

I feel very sorry for all gay people living in Chechnya. Until we regain our ethics and consideration for all people, the work will continue to slide down to a level of disrespect and degradation. trump seems to have infected people around the world with his fear, hate, and racism. He is doing his best to destroy our country, and the pathetic cult of his followers haven't a clue what he's doing. It is terrifying. I would like to see him impeached but unless pence is also impeached, he would grant trump a full pardon. I'd rather see trump charged and face federal trial and time in prison.

Russia's wanting to rid themselves of gay people is no different from Hitler's cleansing Germany of all non-pure Germans, even though he himself was not a 'pure' German. trump has ICE, his own private gestapo and is trying to do the same here with his racist comments and encouraging rampant racism and hate, intolerance. It has to stop before he destroys the tenants of our country.

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Peggy B
Peggy B26 days ago

TYFS

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Shirley S
Shirley S26 days ago

I believe in LOVE & LET LIVE.

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Barbara V
Barbara V26 days ago

ROBERT FITZGERALD: Kudos to you for saying it beautifully. That's how I feel about the church and consequently left it to embrace Buddhism--a faith wherein hate and judging others are NOT DONE. However, I do have a great deal of respect for Christ

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Barbara V
Barbara V26 days ago

There are people in this world who are unbelievably stupid and evil along with it, touting their faux religion and judging gays. This is not the attitude Christ taught, nor did he judge others. He was kind, but these FAUX religious righters have no more love for others in them than a cement wall. If people knew that one is born gay, and maybe if the researchers got busy and figured out what it is in the DNA that causes it, they wouldn't be so disgustingly sick against gays. Yes, it's not the gays who are sick, it's the judgmental straights who make life miserable for other human beings.

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Alea C
Alea C26 days ago

No one would care about gays if the god and jesus freaks hadn't arbitrarily decided gays were going against the word of their imaginary god.

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