Anti-gay Chechyna purge is orchestrated by the government, new report confirms
The mass abductions and torture of gay men in Chechyna is being orchestrated by top figures in the government, a new report from Human Rights Watch confirms today.
The report is based on dozens of interviews with torture victims in the Russian Republic, as well as journalists and LGBT activists.
It blames Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov for the crackdown, with the purge of gay men apparently following his playbook for treating “undesirables”, including drug users, drunk drivers, political dissidents, and Salafi Muslims.
Dozens of men have been imprisoned without trial in the Kremlin-backed state – with many beaten and tortured – as part of a campaign against gay men that began in February.
Russia said today that it is “actively investigating” reports of a crackdown.
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this month to investigate the purge.
The Human Rights Watch report also points to Kadyrov’s number two man, Magomed Daudov, speaker of the Chechen Parliament.
According to the report, the purge started in February when a man who was under the influence of drugs was arrested by police. After searching his phone, police discovered the man was gay, and tortured him into revealing the identities of other gay men.
This information travelled upwards to Magomed Daudov, speaker of the Chechen Parliament, who is a key driving force behind the purge, the report says.
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“Most of the former detainees interviewed by Human Rights Watch reported hearing the police who held and abused them refer to Daudov, and to orders he allegedly issued about violence against gay men,” the report says.
“Three of the interviewed detainees witnessed his presence at detention sites in Argun and Grozny.”
Homophobia has long existed in Chechyna, the report says, which is a “highly conservative, Muslim society”. But homophobia cannot explain the February 2017 purge – senior government figures are responsible.
The report goes on to say: “Homophobia is intense and rampant [in Chechyna], and homosexuality is generally viewed as a stain on family honour.
“People still carry out, or threaten to carry out, ‘honour killings’ to ‘cleanse’ perceived stains to their family’s honour, including against young women suspected of promiscuity and family members who are LGBT.”
It emerged yesterday that prisoners at Chechyna’s gay concentration camp have been moved to a new location.