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Gays' pursuit in Chechnya: tortures, beatings and extortion

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05.04.2017 17:35

While prominent Chechen figures unanimously declare that gays can not be killed in the Republic, simply because they do not exist, Novaya Gazeta journalists receive new evidence of their sources truthfulness. So, the hotline, launched by Novaya Gazeta together with the LGBT network, receive a lot of calls from homosexuals, who fled from the Chechen Republic. About the eerie details of their stories read in our material.

So, on April 1, Novaya Gazeta publishes a resonant material about mass detentions of suspected homosexuals in Chechnya. During the mopping-up for ‘homo’ orientation, about 100 men were detained, 3 of who, according to the edition, are already dead. These data were confirmed by several sources of the publication, including the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Chechen Republic, the administration of Kadyrov, the republican FSB and the Prosecutor's Office of Chechnya. Among the detainees there are representatives of the Chechen muftiate, religious figures close to the Head of the Republic, as well as a known Chechen TV presenter and a hairdresser. According to the sources of the edition, those who are under the sweep have few chances to survive, as their relatives will not seek to investigate the reasons for their persecution or murder. In the Caucasus, the coming out is equivalent to a death sentence, so gays are identified through setups.

Moreover, after a scandalous publication, human rights activists unanimously declared that there are no homosexuals in Chechnya. Member of the Council on the development of civil society and human rights under the Head of Chechnya Kheda Saratova said that she "did not receive a single statement about the murder of homosexuals, but if she did, she would not have considered it." In her opinion, "even if such a person is killed by his relatives, they will not disclose it, and law enforcement agencies will react with understanding." The human rights activist also stated "homosexuality is an evil that every citizen of the Republic should struggle with."

Ramzan Kadyrov's press secretary Alvi Karimov denied the very possibility of homosexuals’ existence in the patriarchal Republic. According to him, it is impossible to prosecute "those who do not exist in the Republic", adding, "If there were homosexuals in Chechnya, they would be sent to places of non-return."

Press secretary of the Russian President Dmitry Peskov, in turn, said that law enforcement agencies would check information about the attacks and murders of gays in Chechnya. He also added that those citizens who believe that their rights have been violated could file complaints and appeal to court.

However, the sexual minorities persecuted by the security forces do not cherish illusions about the legal solutions to the issue. According to Novaya Gazeta, after the publication of the resonant material, representatives of the LGBT community began to contact the editorial staff. Someone managed to escape to Europe, someone moved to other Russian cities, someone is still in Chechnya, hides and fears for their life.

In support of previously disclosed information, the publication published several stories, which prove the bullying and persecution from Chechen law enforcers.

These people do not know each other, but they talk about the same facts. Mass repression of gays in Chechnya began immediately after the announcement of the GayRussia.ru Internet project on holding gay pride parades in four Caucasian cities. However, the starting point was the detention of a certain man in a state of drug intoxication in February 2017. In his phone they found a frank video and a whole list of contacts that pointed out his sexual orientation. This became known to Chairman of the Chechen Parliament Magomed Daudov (Lord), who is known for his control over all the law enforcers in Chechnya. He gave an order to detain everyone whose contacts were in the phone. This caused a chain reaction. The siloviki detained all men who had ever been in contact with a homosexual, and then all their friends. All of them were taken to the officially abandoned building of the former military commandant's office in Argun on Kadyrov Street.

According to the testimony of all who were there, the building is a secret prison, the existence of which is concealed. People are kept there for months: tortures, beating, humiliation, demanding to give out contacts of other representatives of homosexual orientation. The prisoners' phones are specially kept on to find out anyone who calls or writes. Half-dead men, often inadvertently in the hands of law enforcers, are extradited to relatives for great rewards. However, according to the testimony of the people who visited the secret prison, not anyone managed to survive.

"The detainees were tortured, put on a bottle, and electrocuted. Some were beaten to death and returned to relatives, like a bag of bones. I know for sure about two deaths..." said one of those who got out of prison and managed to escape abroad. 

"They clipped the wires from the electric shock to arms and twisted the handle of the electric dynamo. It hurts. I suffered as much as I could, then I lost consciousness and fell. When the current is generated and the body begins to shake, you stop thinking and start to scream. All the time you sit and hear the cries of people who are tortured," another former prisoner wrote.

"As soon as a person is brought into the territory, torture immediately begins. Current or beating with polypropylene pipes. We were always beaten just below the waist - legs, hips, buttocks, and waist. They say that we are "dogs that do not have the right to life." They forced other prisoners to mock us. They have been sitting there for years; most have already lost hope of liberation. And they have no choice. We understood," said another man, who escaped from Chechnya. According to Novaya Gazeta sources, including those who were in the prison, it was Lord, who was present at the release of the detainees and when they were handed over to their relatives. By the time when GayRussia.ru activists made a provocative statement about planned actions detained on suspicion of homosexuality had already been released. And now the prison is full again. Also, the edition knows about 3 dead after the torture of the siloviki. The fate of another person remains unknown, but most likely he died. Only Investigative Committee (ICR) can precisely establish this, if, of course, it takes on the investigation of this case. All the evidence received from those who were under the persecution of security officials Novaya Gazeta intends to file with the ICR. Moreover, the edition insists on the investigation of the atrocities that are taking place in Chechnya. Therefore, while waiting for the refusal to initiate criminal proceedings, Novaya Gazeta prepares an appeal to Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika with a demand to oblige Chairman of the ICR Bastrykin to verify the publications in accordance with Art. 144-145 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.